Tracts and Pamphlets
Walking down the street earlier today, lost in thought as is the usual case, my eye caught a quick little movement, a short little man, who seemed to be somewhat older than myself was coming directly towards me with one arm outstretched in my direction. He was holding something out to me. A quick glance at his face told me there was very likely no threat here, and a second glance, this time at his outstretched hand, allowed me to relax as I saw that he was offering me what I correctly took to be a religious pamphlet. Since I have at home a Christian library of over 1400 books, one of which I felt certain would cover the general topic of whatever was being put forth within that pamphlet (and quite possibly with a little less extremism attached to it) I was in the process of politely declining his offer, when he said to me without letting me finish, “Oh? You know Jesus?”
For a very brief moment, there was that temptation to bristle at the fact that he couldn’t even wait for me to finish my sentence before interjecting his questions, or maybe it was that just because of the way I was dressed, or the neighborhood I was in, he had automatically assumed I was in need of salvation. I’ve often wondered just how many corners in the suburbs there are with people standing around handing out these kinds of tracts. I tend to grade self-professed Christians on a harsher curve than non-believers simply because we’re supposed to be setting an example. However, there was something in the tone of his question, perhaps in the almost innocent sincerity it was just saturated with (and I mean this in a good way), that not only made me stop, but made me think for a moment before I said anything. When I finally felt like I could speak, I was no longer in any way upset, and the very first thing I did was take the time to put a big smile on my face so that he would know also that I wasn’t upset. Then I said to him very respectfully, “I would like to think I know Jesus very well.”
And then he got me again, when he said, “I’m so sorry, I should have known that.”
And now I knew it was my turn to return the favor, and say the right thing to him, so I said, “You really shouldn’t worry about it, I think we’d have to be Jesus Himself before we could ever know all our Christian brothers and sisters.”
He said, “Yes, I guess that’s true.” Then he offered me the pamphlet again, and since I’m always happy to admit that I know when I’m beat, this time I took it.
As I now walked away, leaving him there smiling to himself, and thus quite happy I hope, I couldn’t help but wonder if he would ever realize that I wasn’t intending by what I had said to him, to give him carte blanche to keep handing out pamphlets to every person in my neighborhood simply because he couldn’t be expected to know who were and who weren’t Christians. I was hoping he would realize that that’s the reason that handing out these pamphlets is a really bad idea in the first place. And then, we haven’t even talked about how the content on such a large number of these pamphlets borders just this side of the type of propaganda favored by groups like ISIS, and you can start to see why Christians who are fighting to maintain the faith just cringe when they see people handing these things out. But that’s another Blog issue altogether, so let’s just leave it at that for today.