C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Follow Up To: Do I Make You Feel Uncomfortable

As a follow up to my recent post, entitled Do I Make You Feel Uncomfortable, a friend of mine suggested that I write an article discussing “the correct ways to do things.” I ponder this may go along with my article, entitled Critical Teardown versus Constructive Criticism. As in most cases, to see what is wrong is a bit easier than to find the right corrective action for it. And I am not sure I have done any better work here.

As discussed in my last post, let us consider the topics of witnessing, touching, too personal, and personal space. As posted in red within the right column of my blog, one may note that these are merely my personal thoughts and are not to be used to judge my church, pastor, or its members, and thus the reader is free to agree or disagree with the assertions I put forth. But if you disagree, please suggest a positive alternative.

WITNESSING: Although I received a comment, to my last post, “If you don't want to make people feel uncomfortable, consider not proselytizing to non-believers,” witnessing is a command by God, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, which is clearly expressed by Jesus Christ before and after His crucifixion. Scripture saith, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” A person must realize that they are a sinner and need to repent (to turn from sin to Christ), to receive salvation by grace, through faith in Christ. This does not come from brow-beating a person into submission of our legalistic rules, but by showing them the Word of God, and what He has determined to be sin and righteousness. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit using the Word of God; therefore, sometimes when non-believers become uncomfortable with the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is really being uncomfortable in their sin by the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. Before one simply tries to witness, they should be in tune with the Spirit of God and His Word. This can’t be done on a spur of the moment, if we are not already striving to live obedient to Scripture, in a healthy, personal relationship with Christ. Quite often we need to take notice of the opportunities we have to witness to lost family and friends, which will seldom have one feeling uncomfortable, unless we question them in a public setting or exhaust their patience, by our continual placing more emphasis on each and everyone of their personal sins, than the grace and mercy that can be found through forgiveness in Christ. Remember a “good” sinner and a “bad” sinner are still sinners, and only the blood of Christ can cleanse us white as snow. Don’t witness in self righteousness, for it is the righteousness of Christ that saves a sinner from sin, and works in us to do that which is well pleasing to the Father. There is a greater chance of making persons feel uncomfortable as we witness, when we go door to door, pass out tracts, or simply speak to one is passing. When we offer a tract, if the person refuses to take it, accept their rejection. If a person is holding a beer, when they open the door as you hand them an invitation to church, don’t start railing or rebuking them on alcohol. Acknowledge we all have sin, even Christians are saved sinners, and that we all need the Savior, Jesus Christ. Be Holy Spirit led in witnessing, and don’t expect others to come to Christ, if you haven’t spent time with Him all day either.

TOUCHING: In dealing with touching, it seems that hugs have drawn the most attention from my previous post. It appears a lot of women are “huggers”, but the evidence remains that they do not all like to hug all men. So a man can scream to the roof tops, “Why won’t she hug me”, and the simple answer remains, “She doesn’t want to, and doesn’t owe it to you.” A friend of mine noted, at another place I posted my topic, the following:

First: a man is ALWAYS to wait for a lady to extend her own hand before he shakes hands with her. ALWAYS. It is considered rude in polite society for a man to extend his hand first. Since it is always assumed that a woman would not ever be the aggressor, but rather, is the weaker and gentler sex, the extension of her hand is a non-threatening gesture and always acceptable.

Second: this hugging rule is slightly trickier. Certainly one would not hug a complete stranger, however, in the company of friends, it is not considered impolite for a 'BRIEF,' yet warm, hug to be offered by a woman. If a woman hugs a man and he deems it uncomfortable, it is never polite to, in turn, make the woman feel uncomfortable, or to make her feel that she has done something wrong. It is ALWAYS up to the man to be a 'gentleman.'

Apparently, these were derived from Emily Post’s Etiquette, from 1922. If we take these at face value, the common theme is to allow the female person to extend the handshake or hugging toward a male person. I dare say that this may not remove all uncomfortable situations for the male, but I can’t help but believe this would be a much better practice; especially in a church setting. I am not addressing that we should not hug anyone, but I think one needs to consider, “Why do I want to hug them,” before they do it. Characters are easily seen, especially for persons in a church setting. People notice those that are “innocent huggers” and those which may appear to be “selective huggers” (and I will leave it at that). I completely realize that many family and friends grow up in church and honestly love one another and enjoy seeing each other on Sundays, but if the only time you talk to this teenage or younger woman is Sunday morning, do you really need a hug from her, men? Personally, I would say it is best to refrain from older men extending a hug toward a teenage or younger woman, unless she first extends it to him, and it is done openly.

TOO PERSONAL: I believe friendships and relationship must somewhat grow before we can expect someone to feel comfortable giving or accepting too much personal information about ourselves or themselves. The best policy should be, if you are not sure if the other person is comfortable talking about something (whether of them or you), I would suggest refraining from doing so, or asking them politely, would they mind first, and accept their answer without getting offended. Personal is exactly what it means, it is theirs or yours, and not necessarily for another person. Even though, both men and women enjoy a compliment, there is a line that one needs to take care not to cross over. “Your hair looks really nice today,” is not the same as saying, “Your skin looks so soft.” This may be a little extreme, but also consider the idea of whether the comment is made in passing, or is continuously elaborated on. Pay attention to your comments, before you say them, to see if they are questionable. If you think they could be taken wrongly, and cause the person to feel uncomfortable, don’t say it.

PERSONAL SPACE: Often times, especially in church, there is interaction of male and female persons. We need to take notice and beware that we do no invade another’s personal space, to cause them to become uncomfortable. If a female is alone in an area, and a male enters to speak with her (or vice versa), especially if you do not mutually see one another as friends (meaning already both feel comfortable with each other), take note that you allow “buffer” space to [1] ease the other party, and [2] not allow one in passing to take notice and assume something inappropriate. Keep doors open and remain visible to hallways, and if the other party seems uncomfortable, don’t make a scene, but dismiss yourself till others are present.

I may have done nothing but repeat my last post of this issue, but it is only because I consider it important and it seems that it is not often thought about. More than just touching can and does cause a person to become uncomfortable, and if all possible, we should refrain ourselves from being the cause. I believe that staying spiritually minded, in a prayerful relationship with Christ, meditating on the precious Words of God, we will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and the uncomfortableness that we could bring upon others and/or ourselves may be diminished.

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John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.