Two roads diverged in, if not a yellow wood, at least my tentative brain as I faced down a way-leads-on-to-way sort of decision. My choice would irrevocably alter a good chunk of my intellectual life, change my mode of writing and form of interaction with the world. I writhed, I wavered, I waffled. But the choice had to be made. I took my less-traveled (sort of) road and knew I could not turn back. I converted. I abandoned the Microsoft upbringing of my childhood and bought a MacBook.
I am now a thorough and enthusiastic disciple of the Apple side of the spectrum, but because of my choice, have had to defend my decision to several old friends of late. It’s always a long and colorful process of explaining the allure of those great commercials that started me thinking, my brother’s many praises of his own beloved Mac, and my occassional stolen sessions on his to see if I would enjoy it for myself. It’s quite a protracted process to relate. But oddly enough, it has gotten me thinking about, of all things, the ways of evangelism. Not just for Apples, but for Christ.
The process is, after all, much the same. It all begins with a bit of publicity. Good publicity it is to be hoped. I currently attend (with much inward debate) a rather large church with quite a reputation for the quality of their productions and services. As I watched a well-filmed clip advertising their small groups program last Sunday, I found it to be pretty similar to the catchy charm of the Apple commercials. And it did its job. It piqued my interest. And that led to the next step; personal contact with someone who could provide me with the good thing I had seen. In the case of my new laptop, it was my brother-who was eager to praise the benefits and superiorities of the Apple way of life. Sounds pretty close to evangelism to me. I wasn’t convinced the first go round. But he insisted on bringing up the subject at every hint of my desire for a new computer and was dogged in his insistence that I give his Mac a try. I did. Once in his presence, and several on my own when I could putter about at my leisure. My puttering led to more conversations, and more debates and more trials. But ultimately it led to full conversion; the buying of my own, magnificent Mac OS X.
I don’t really think evangelism is much different. Because the thing that most struck me in my rather random musings was that it was the live-eyed convincing of a fellow-human being that changed the set ways of my former ideas. The commercials may have stirred my interest, but the ardent conviction of my brother caught my ideas. The conversations (and arguments) and long debates were what, over a long period of time, led me to invest a large amount of money in this slim black book. And I think that in the winning of hearts it is the same; conversion usually happens in the context of relationships, at the end of countless conversational hours and endless discussions of worn out debates. Change comes when people see the alternate way of life lived by Christ lovers. The overturn of long held values occurs when people are able to putter about among the ideas of goodness, kindness, unconditional love as they are lived out by the Christians in their homes and families and neighborhood haunts. Conversion comes when faith has tangled itself so deeply into their thought that they can no longer deny it.
I think perhaps we give an overemphasis to the commercial sort of evangelism that charmingly illustrates the superiority of our way of life. A bit of showiness has its place. But it cannot stop there. We cannot allow our entertainment culture to be merely amused by Christianity. We must be ready to offer what we have presented, ready to live out our confidence in the superiority of Christ’s kingdom. Ready for long debates. Willing to open our homes and selves to people’s curiosity and need to putter about in the touchable reality of a new philosophy as it is lived out in us. I think that’s where conversion really takes place. In the rhythmic weave of daily, relational life.
So you see, Apples really are superior. Could a PC ever inspire such deep (or ridiculously random) contemplation?