Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Going There: Can I Convert You?

Alright, I've got a problem—and therefore, by extension, you have a problem, but more on that in a minute.

My problem is that one of the central tenets of my religion is that I try to convert people--really the whole world, if I can pull it off--to my religion. I know that sounds really scary, but really it isn't. We're not allowed to do it by force (or even guilt), and The Book even tells us it's not actually us who are doing it, but Him. And yet we are asked. I have no ability to convert you, ultimately conversion is a transaction between a person and God, but somehow I'm brought along for the ride. To make it worse, I have no idea how conversion words. Beyond the statement "God does it," I have no idea what causes a person to believe. I used to think that it was based on argument and understanding. If I could argue you to a place where you have the correct understanding, then bingo you would believe. I don't believe that anymore. Argument doesn't seem to help...too much, anyway.

Now. I would just like to ignore the imperative, and most of the time I do. Of course it isn't that simple. I don't ignore it, I just find ever more creative ways of mitigating the commandment. And that would be all fine and well and good, except for it isn't. I take God seriously, I have put all of my spiritual/religious eggs in the Father, Son, and Spirit basket. What that means is that I can't ignore all of the instruction I've been given. I can't ignore it because I think it's Truth. That means that even if I don't like it (and since I don't want to be struck down by lightning I can't actually say "I don't like it" to God, which is why I will only heavily imply such a notion), I still must abide by it, because no one can rationally turn from Truth, now, can they?

So one of my jobs is to do the one thing that you do not do in our culture: Tell someone they're wrong. I mean, you can do it, but you'll be relegated to circus freak status in short order. And of course that's only shorthand for what I'm trying to say. I would never say to someone "I'm right, you're wrong, end of discussion." But we must understand that it what we're saying, out loud or otherwise, whenever you have a belief (God exists) that disagrees with someone else's (God does not exist); unless you don't believe in the possibility of contradiction, and if that's you then I think we're done here, thank you very much.

Can I just say that trying to share the gospel with people is awkward and strange. I don't like doing it, and I don't like making people uncomfortable.

Anyway, all of this is a long introduction to the bright idea I need to lay on you: What if I had you come to me? Here's the thing: Despite the fact that there is a taboo on conversion, a lot of people are interested in discussing spiritual matters. I am just such one of these people. Now that I've shown my true colors—that I like to talk religion, that I want to convert you—all of you people that are interested in such things can come to me. Hell, you know that I'M interested in the discussion, so that should help with some of the tension.

It's a different way of going at things. It's a bit of the turning of the tables. Instead of me going out into the world, I'm having the world come to me. You need to know that I'm just as willing to have you convert me. What bums people out is that attempting conversion is so often a monologue, but I am firmly committed to dialogue (not diatribe). I'm committed to truth, and so if I'm in error in some way, I am open and willing for correction. As the Scriptures say, come, let us reason together...

If it helps, I know that this is all silly. I understand that I will get no takers, that I will, in fact, need to supplement by making a proactive instead of reactive effort. But the writing down of it all helps express some of the frustration, so I guess my objective was achieved.

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