But that's just the start of this lovely day. Before I'd even finished my first cup of tea, there was a knock on the door. I glanced outside and noticed a woman's head, and thought it belonged to a friend. So I made the mistake of opening the door. And...tell me you know where this is going! One of two places, right? It was a couple of friendly Jehovah Witnesses.
For the most part, I make it a practice not to engage with those who come to my door sharing their version of the Truth. It's the very opposite of the reason many people don't like to get into such conversations, however. I don't feel a bit intimidated, but know that within moments it'll become my version of a spiritual pissing contest. Yep, I said that. And that's exactly what happened this morning. The man asked me what I believe about the way the world is, whether it seems like the end is near. I agreed that it definitely does seem that way, but that every generation since the first thought that Jesus was about to return, and that scripture wouldn't have said He'd come like a thief in the night if He didn't intend us to be surprised by it.
"But don't you think things are different now?" The man asked me.
"I think we need to live as though we only have a day left, and treat the earth as though it needs to last another thousand years," I told him.
When the man (who always does the talking, while his wife stands looking demure and sweet beside him) began quoting scripture at me, I told him the chapter and verse he was quoting. I just couldn't help myself.
We had quite a conversation. I got chilly, standing there in my pjs and sweatshirt, talking the same language but with differing perspectives. Their main concern is about the Kingdom being on this physical spherical thing we call earth. And for me, the Kingdom has far less to do with this planet than with the sphere of God's reign. I don't really care where it is, here or there or anywhere, so long as He's there and we can worship Him.
I didn't say this. Dang it. I didn't think of it until after I'd closed the door and heard their car drive off. They had tried to give me a book entitled, "What the Bible REALLY says," which I politely refused. And he asked if they might return for another conversation, since I am clearly a 'earnest Bible reader.' Again, politely, I told them that if their goal is to win people for Christ and His Kingdom they might make better use of their time with others who do not already know and love Jesus Christ. The man began to say, "But you do not..." but his wife pulled at his sleeve and he turned away. That was the only glitch in the smoothness of their conversation.
It's an interesting thing to contemplate, however. To them, I am the one who is in need of correction (at least), and to me, they are the ones in error. And there are other such peoples in the world who would likewise see me so, and see these kind and earnest Jehovah Witnesses as equally in error as me. Such folks have come to my door as well. Others have met me on street corners.
So how do we measure? By what standard do we evaluate truth? When a person comes knocking on our door and wields the same book we hold sacred, how do we weed it all out?
I found some common ground with these folks on my doorstep this morning. They spoke the Beatitude, "the meek shall inherit the earth," and I know those words to be true and God-breathed. They (or, he, I should say) quoted John 15:13, "greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his brother", which is powerful and never fails to sing to me (in no small part because in the Bible I used all through-out high school and college, inexplicably beside that verse, at some point I wrote Beve's name. Talk about prophetic!). Jesus did this because we needed it. This very advent we're leaning in toward the day we celebrate God coming down for this holy purpose. So I could and do agree with any man and woman who can and does hold these words to be true and from God.
But let me be clear. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the one True thing. We need nothing else (see John 20:31). No other book, no additional clause. It's not the earth that Jesus came to save, it was us. The end. We don't share the gospel or the Kingdom or the good news or whatever else you want to call it to the ends of the earth so that we can live on this earth eternally. We share the gospel because He is true. Because He is God. Because He is. Because. That 'because' contains it all.