I saw this You Tube video of atheist and master illusionist Penn Jillette, relating an encounter he had with a Christian fan after a show. View it here. It is incredibly heartfelt and powerful.
The honesty and forthrightness displayed by Jillette as he relates this encounter is quite touching; not many people have the courage or desire to relate such a personal encounter and to expose themselves to such a degree. I have nothing but respect for this man. He is obviously a thinker who is willing to be open enough to engage in conversations with those whom he has great differences.
Christians, besides looking to Christ, here is the next-best blueprint for evangelization. I must confess that I have a strong fear of sharing my faith with others who might not be receptive to it (i.e., those who need to hear it most.) Especially in this day and age, I think many Christians have a fear of evangelization because they might come across as self-righteous (I’m good and you’re not) or that they might be accused of proselytizing (I have the answers and you don’t).
But listen to what Jillette has to say about it:
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
As a Catholic, if I believe there is a heaven and a hell and a way to avoid going to this terrible place called hell, what on earth should possibly keep me from telling everyone around me the way to avoid it, too?
There are two lessons here. One: Christians, share your faith out of love and without fear. And for heaven’s sake, don’t be negative or confrontational. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words.” Two: Atheists, if someone approaches you and desires to share with you what is to them the most important news you could ever hear, rejoice in it, as they are taking a great risk out of love for you.
“How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?”
It is a switch of mindset for everyone. But it makes a great difference.