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Book

The Christian Handbook: An Indispensable Guide to All Things Christian

231 pages
Augsburg Books
ISBN: 0806652594

 
COMMENTARY

Comic Christians: Witnessing with Humor

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer

CBN.comDo you know the five grossest stories in the Bible? How about the weirdest laws in the Old Testament? I would venture to guess that you are having trouble calling these to mind, but I bet you really want to know the answers.

I promise we will eventually get to the answers, but let me ask you a question first. What is it about these tidbits of biblical trivia that you find appealing?  Is it the “gross” and “weird” factors? Is it the fact that you’ve never thought of the information in this way before? Sure, you’ve probably read all of the stories in the Bible, but maybe you have never evaluated them based on their “disgusting factor.”

I picked up a clever little book recently, titled The Christian Handbook. At first, it appeared to be a collection of humorous lists and morsels of information that poked fun at Christians. The pages were filled with advice for church-going believers. Quickly, I discovered these helpful instructions.

  • How to survive an hour-long sermon in an un-air-conditioned church -- Think cool thoughts and use your bulletin as a fan.
  • How to sing a praise song -- Beware of passionate worshippers who may raise their hands quickly and knock you in the head.
  • How to survive an Old Testament plague -- Avoid global tyrants, and repent of your sins.

While I found the information to be entertaining, the thought rolling around in the back of my mind was, Great, as if Christians don’t have enough people in the world making fun of them, now we are making fun of ourselves.

However, as I thumbed through the book I discovered it contained much more than satirical jabs at Christians. Mixed in with the humor, were serious admonitions such as how to put God first daily, how to keep Christ at the center of your marriage, how to pray and listen for God’s voice, and how to confess your sins and receive forgiveness. The tiny manual also provided maps and diagrams of things and places found in the Bible, a list of common Christian symbols and what they mean, and charts comparing world religions and their beliefs. In fact, this little book held a wealth of information that would be helpful not only for Christians, but also for non-Christians.

And the book was just fun enough that unbelievers would probably find it appealing.

That’s when it hit me. Faith can be fun. We hear many sermons about “the joy of salvation,” but sometimes Christians come across as the least fun people on earth. I think sometimes we are hesitant to enjoy life for fear that we may become too worldly. People are attracted to joy and laughter, so if our faith is to be attractive to other people, perhaps we should be willing to laugh at ourselves and have a little more fun.

This enjoyable little book also reminded me of some important things to remember when sharing our faith with unbelievers. The unique thing about The Christian Handbook, is that it presented information in a way that piqued my interest, and to top it off, it made me laugh. I began to wonder, what if we used this approach when sharing our faith?

I think there are a few things to keep in mind when we witness to people. First, we should realize the importance of our message and the need to share it. As pastor Rick Warren often asks in his Purpose Driven Bible studies: if you discovered the cure for one of the world’s worst diseases, would you keep it to yourself and tell no one? Of course, not! We hold the answers to the meaning of life. We should be sharing this good news with everyone around us.

The next important thing to consider when sharing your faith is the fact that actions speak louder than words. Before you open your mouth, please be sure that your lifestyle matches what you are about to say. Enough damage has been done to our credibility as Christians by believers who enjoy telling others how to live according the Bible but fail to do so themselves.

Lastly, I believe the best way to share our faith with those around us is to build a relationship with them first. I’m not a fan of clichés, but the old adage, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” seems to fit here.

With these things in mind, what are some practical ways that we can share our faith with unsaved family members, friends, or co-workers? How can we casually broach spiritual topics with an unbeliever? For most of us, walking up to someone and beginning the conversation with, “If you die tonight, do you know where you will spend eternity?” is quite awkward. In fact, unless you are sitting in a plane that is about to crash, then I’d say perhaps this question isn’t the best opener.

For many people, sharing their faith sometimes takes the form of passing on "helpful" advice. For instance, you may have good intentions when you tell that nice boy next door that he shouldn’t be shacking up with his girlfriend and suggest that they simply get married. But, chances are, he will not find your useful suggestion to be so kind. Thus, the door to his heart will be firmly closed, and you will have lost the opportunity to share the love of Christ with him.

I’m not saying that we should not call sin what it is. I’m simply saying that there is a time and a place for that. Perhaps that “advice” would be better if it were saved for a time when the person is ready to follow Christ and eager to begin lining up his life with God’s Word.

Other people approach witnessing with a simply-state-the-facts attitude. “We are all sinners. You are a sinner. You are going to hell if you don’t accept Christ and let Him forgive your sins.” While this message is true, it doesn’t reflect the love that our Lord has for unsaved people. Rather than trying to scare them into Heaven, maybe we should concentrate on explaining why they will want to be there.

Perhaps a better way to share our faith is to think about the unbeliever’s life circumstances and what they need right now. Is this person a single mom who could benefit from a day of pampering while you watch her children? Maybe a friend or neighbor who cares enough to see this need and meet it is someone she would like to get to know better. Is this person a huge fan of the TV shows Ghost Whisperer and Medium? Maybe he would be interested in why you believe in “the supernatural.”

Or perhaps, as The Christian Handbook reminded me, maybe these spiritual conversations are best begun by including a factor of fun. What are the grossest stories in the Bible? (I told you we’d eventually get to the answers.) Here is the list.

  • Eglon and Ehud (Judges 3:12-30) – This is the story of two judges, a toilet, and an untimely death.
  • Job’s Sores (Job 2:1-10) – Need I say more?
  • The Naked Prophet (Isaiah 20) – Isaiah gives a “revealing” sign of protest.
  • The Almost Naked Prophet (Jeremiah 13:1-11) – A pair of sandy shorts shows God’s disgust for a rebellious people.
  • Spilling Your Guts (Matthew 27:1-8; Acts 1:16-19) – We see the gruesome result of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.

And the weirdest laws of the Old Testament?

  • The “ox” law (Exodus 21:28) – Keep track of your livestock so they do not do harm to others.
  • The “no kid boiling” law (Exodus 23:19b) – Of course we are talking about baby goats here, not children.
  • The “which bugs are legal to eat” law (Leviticus 11:20-21) – Tastes like chicken? I’m not quite sure.
  • The “don’t eat blood” law (Leviticus 17:12) – Tastes like … nevermind.
  • The “pure cloth” law (Deuteronomy 22:11) – In the days before polyester, this law advised readers not to wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.

These are just a few quirky facts from the Bible. Granted, telling gross Bible stories isn’t exactly the same as sharing the good news of the Gospel, but it will most likely capture the person’s attention. As Christians, we should be looking for ways – including humor – to share Christ with those around us. Most people appreciate a good laugh, and it could open the door for a more serious spiritual conversation.

If you are looking for more of these peculiar facts from the Bible, pick up a copy of The Christian Handbook. It’s a great conversational piece for your coffee table, and you will probably find that you can learn a few new things from it yourself.

We must remember that, ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit’s work to save souls. Our job is to plant the seeds of faith and to love people the way Christ loves them. And if we can show them that Christians also know how to have fun, perhaps they will want to find out more about the reason for our joy.


Comments? Email me

More articles by Belinda on CBN.com

 

 

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