the uncomfortable pyramidJanuary 30, 2016
I finish writing, upload a picture and hesitate, do I want to, dare to hit the publish button on this?
The weeks word prompt was metaphor : a word I’ve toyed with and wrestled over, for so many things came to mind and yet nothing had stuck. It wasn’t until we were wandering home and ended up talking about pyramid schemes that something hit a nerve, twanged the strings long dormant and yet still tightly tuned. For me, pyramid schemes have echoes of evangelism resonating through them. Frankly, pyramid scheme evangelism is both wonderfully effective and sure to scare the pants of most of us.
I grew up in the heyday of Graham Kendrik – not only did we have the infamous ‘Shine Jesus shine’, we also had the gloriously bouncy, ‘One shall tell another and he shall tell his friend’, and that’s the very template of evangelism I’ve seen glorified again and again. Many a talk of evangelism can leave you feeling the need to be retail minded, peddling the gospel. To go make friends with a goal in mind, to identify those to may come, and they will bring more, who will bring more. It’s so innocuous, logical, practical and yet we baulk. We don’t want to sell our faith, it’s not just that it’s uncomfortable, it’s that we want to have relationships that don’t have agenda’s.
Jesus calls us to ‘go’ and to ‘tell’, to ‘share’ and ‘show’ – and while being at the top of your own mini pyramid shouldn’t be either the aim nor a sign of success, if we are honest many treat it as such. Nowhere is this more true than when we are engaged in work for the wider church. I used to really struggle with this. In the early years of my mission here I found myself craving opportunities to get anywhere near the pyramid. I wanted pictures and glorious stories of how God had transformed lives to share with my supporters. I felt like I was failing because I didn’t find opportunities to gently preach, for wasn’t it my aim to convert? Eventually God lead me into a community but to work mostly on-line, and sadly the faceless comments of thanks seemed a weak substitute.
When I look at our greatest guide, the life of Jesus, I just don’t see the salesman. He lived and preached surrounded by people, he shared and showed people the message of the gospel in a way more genuine that any peddle. When we live and breathe and get excited about our beliefs we will share them, in a myriad of ways not possible to convey through the spiel. And the gospel, the church, the faith, isn’t just about getting past the starting line. It’s not limited to signing up, saying a prayer, and shouting I’ve been saved.
It’s about the the uncomfortable pyramid, the strength to remain part of a crumbling structure, the resolve to continue to be sculpted daily, the enduring of obedience. As much as we need those who welcome you through the front door, we need others who prop you up, excite you, resource you, challenge you, and rebuke you.
It took me a while. A while of wishing, comparing, self berating even, but sometimes a missionary is not just about converting, it’s about the equally hard work of keeping those who have honoured us by joining the family we love. Obviously, it doesn’t stop me loving the opportunity to share what I believe when the chance arises!