I have to admit that I used to hate cats. I never understood why someone would want an animal that hides 20 hours of the day and hisses at you the other 4 hours it decides to grace you with it’s presence. I see all the “cute” kitten pictures that girls post on facebook and all I can think is… “You need a dog in your life.” Strangely enough though, my perceptions of cats have taken a complete 180 due to a stray cat that visits our house from time to time named Stubby.
Stubby started coming to our doorstep early this winter and I wanted nothing to do with him. Ashley and I would sometimes put out some scrap food for Stubby and he would eat it and then go on his way. I seemed to like his lack of neediness and the time came when it was 20 degrees outside and I agreed to let him in for about an hour, but no longer. While he was in our house he was playful, well behaved and actually somewhat loveable. After his hour was up I kicked him outside with some warm towels that he could shelter under. Another week of cold weather came up and there Stubby was at our door waiting for us when we got home. This time I agreed to let Stubby stay the entire night. About 3 am I wake up to a shifting of weight at the foot of our bed and there Stubby was, all cuddled up at the foot of the bed. All my instincts told me “KICK HIM OFF”, but I decided to let him stay. Time and time this has happened and now when we come home Stubby is usually waiting for us doing backflips for us to come in. I have bought him play toys, I let him stay whenever he wants, he has met my friends, and I actually am planning on buying meow mix soon. I am still a dog man, but little experiences over time with Stubby has me re-thinking how I view cats because I can truly say I love Stubby and look forward to seeing him every day. This 180 change of how I view cats actually teaches a great lesson about how us as Christians should outreach to the lost.
The truth is, is that there are many people in this world who are not ready to accept Christ. Many people; however, are open to a gesture of kindness that can push them closer to being ready to accept Christ. Many people use the analogy of golfers. Some golfers are right on the green and ready to putt their ball in (Accept Christ), but other’s are so far away from the hole it would be foolish for someone to tell them to get out their putter. However for that person that is far away from the hole any tool that can be used to get them closer to the hole (Acts of Kindness) where they can use thier putter (Accept Christ) must be seen as progress.
Too many times in evangelism we focus on the end result and we want to rush people there without being kind and genuine. There are many people who just are so far away from accepting God, that a push in that direction from a practical service may be all that God asks us to do for that moment. If I think about my relationship with Stubby, he did not come in and demand that he slept on my bed and ate my food right away. Little acts of genuiness and love got me to the point where i was ready to dive in to whatever Stubby wanted. So what can this look like in Christianity? These little acts of kindness/genuiness could come in the form of passing out free soda, passing out free candy, doing free car washes, raking leafs for free, or any free service that aims just to show people that God loves them in a practical way with no strings attached.
A pastor in Cincinnati focused on this type of evangelism that he coined Servant Evangelism and his church excelled in it. One day Billy Graham was in Cincinnati to put on a mission and while he was in his car someone came to him and gave him a free soda with a card that said God loves you…there are no strings attached on it. Billy Graham was so blown away he called the pastor of the church that was on the card and met with him. This is the Pastor’s testimony of this moment:
“He asked me, “How many touches have you made over the years since you started doing servant evangelism in Cincinnati? I told him, “Several million over the past 16 years” Billy said “I am convinced that what evangelistic harvest we see over the next several days will be connected with what you all have done over these years of planting and watering. Without planting and watering there is no harvest.” “Whatever you do, keep doing this stuff!”
This Saturday (Feb11th) we are going to meet at Chick-Fil-A in Weatherford at 10 am and pass out free valentines candy and tell people that Jesus loves them with no strings attached. I gurantee you this will be a special time and God will use our little pushes of some people to bring them to a place where they are ready to bring their putter out and Accept Christ.