The Great Commission is all about making friends. Now I know Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19 NLT), but Jesus himself showed that you can’t make a disciple until you first make a friend. “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” (John 15:15 NLT)
So what Christians have called “witnessing” for some time really should be more like building relationships. It’s what you do over the long haul of a relationship that counts so much more than door-to-door canvassing of the neighborhood.
In the movie The Big Kahuna starring Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey, a young salesman fresh out of Baptist college goes on his first business trip to a convention with a couple seasoned veterans from his company. In an attempt to land a CEO (“The Big Kahuna”) of a very large account as a new client, the young Baptist, played surprisingly close to a real Baptist by Peter Tarrantino, ends up the unlikely one of the three who has the best shot at talking with the CEO.
But instead of talking about the company he represents and setting up his partners with a meeting, the Baptist ends up spending the whole conversation witnessing to the man about Jesus. When his co-workers find out about this, Spacey goes ballistic. A hot-headed argument ensues between Spacey and the rookie salesman over the place of religion in business, and Danny DeVito, the oldest and wisest of the three, tries to calm them both down and provides some very sensible advice. What he says to the young Baptist should be heard and considered by all Christians. It goes something like this:
“The minute you lay hold of a conversation in order to steer it in a certain direction, it ceases to be a conversation, it’s a sales pitch; and you aren’t a human being anymore, you’re a marketing rep. If you really care about the man, ask him about his kids … his wife … his dreams …”
It’s the difference between pushing an agenda and truly caring for somebody. If you care about somebody, you want to know what he or she is thinking, what is the person’s hopes and dreams, joys and disappointments – in other words, what are the things that make that person human. Friendship is all about finding common ground, and it is out of this common ground that what is shared will have credibility.
John Fischer resides in Southern California with his wife, Marti and son, Chandler. They also have two adult children, Christopher and Anne. John is a published author and popular speaker.
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