We as Christians have a duty to spread the gospel of Christs resurrection and his offer of redemption and reward for those who follow him. We have been given a great commission by our Lord himself when at his ascension he tells the eleven remaining apostles to "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations"-Matthew 28:16-20. We are to be a light in a dark world. And we are to show that light to all that they may see the truth and be saved. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. " - Matthew 5:14-16 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand? - Mark 4:21 "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16 But I believe that too many of us in our zeal to spread the gospel and our excitement to share the faith shine our light so brightly that it is blinding to others. Imagine yourself in a dark room, you have a wonderful flashlight and can't wait to share it with those around you. You turn the light on and shine it around the room. What would happen to those who are staring at that light after being in the dark? Would the chorus's of "get that thing out of my face!", "Turn that off!" not echo around the room? But now imagine that you simply turned the light on but just shone it up to the ceiling or against a wall? Others would see the light, see the glow and come to investigate. This is simplistic I know but I think it illustrates my point. When we shine our light in peoples faces they tend to recoil and to look away, and to get hostile. I see this all the time, in real life and especially here in the cyber world. People come to forums like ours and immediately begin to shine their light at people, to jump up on their soap box and preach on the corners for all to see. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but if it is done in a blinding way, say injecting faith into every conversation, no matter what the topic being discussed is, then that is blinding. To let people know you are a person of faith is one thing, shouting it from the rooftops is another. Neither is hiding your light under a bushel. One is letting your light shine so that others will see it and be curious. The other is shining it in their faces and having them recoil from it. When we witness, what are the reactions we get? Are we producing good fruits or pushing those in the dark farther away? While this passage is referring to false prophets I feel it could just as easily be referring to ineffective evangelists. Matthew 7:15-20 You Will Know Them by Their Fruits 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. What fruits are we producing? If your zeal to spread the gospel is resulting in strife, anger and division are you producing good fruits? I see people who come on our forum with the sole desire to preach to the unsaved. To spread the word. And while I have to love them and admire their passion, I also see that they are only causing resentment and division and they usually don't last long. They bear no fruit, only hostility, and they soon leave. Melbo created this forum, the Faith and Religion forum specifically for those of faith to have a place to congregate and to discuss and to pray for each other. This is our church and this is a place to place our lamps and let them shine. And any who are drawn to the light can come here and be embraced, ask questions, ask for prayer, join in a discussion, and hopefully learn the truth that we so fervently wish to share. But the key is they have to come here. We can't go out in the other forums and start shining our light in everyone's eyes. We will produce no fruit that way. I am a strong believer in Paul's exhortation to "Be all things to all men". …21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. If you prefer a more modern translation; New Living Translation "When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some." When I first got saved I struggled mightily with being who I was and trying to become, what I thought, I was supposed to be. I thought that I had to cut my hair, shave my beard, trade in my leathers and Harley T-shirts for slacks and polo shirts. I finally realized that God called me, just the way I was, not my imitation of what I thought a Christian should be. He had plenty of followers in slacks and polo shirts. He needed greasy hairy biker followers that could reach into that world and shine his light. And while the mainstream Church going folk were aghast by my looks and attire and my hanging out with the "wrong crowd" I comforted myself with the example our Lord himself set. He didn't hang out with the church folk, he ate with the sinners. The tax collectors, the prostitutes, he went to their parties, he dined with them. He took the light into the dark. I am blessed to have confirmation that seeds I was able to plant in those places later took root and produced fruit. By being there in the dark room with those who were in the dark, I was able to let my light show but not shine it into their eyes and turn them away. I was always known as a Christian, I never hid my light, but I also didn't shine it in peoples faces. They saw that light and were curious. I had many a conversation, many a chance to witness, in a kitchen or outside on the patio while a wild raging party was going on around me. Seeds that would one day bear wonderful and miraculous fruit. I work in a very testosterone fueled industry. A macho mans world full of hard drinking, hard living roughnecks. I am one of them. When I am with them I become as them. When I am with my biker friends I am one of them, I become as them. When I am with my redneck friends I is one of em. I become as them. When I have the chance to be around my intellectual friends, I am one of them, I become as them. Here on the board of preppers and survivalists I am one of them. I am all things to all men, so that by all means I may save some. Now does this mean I am an imposter? Not at all. I am myself, but I wear many hats. I am a roughneck, I am a biker, I am an outlaw, I am an intellectual and I am a prepper. But I am always a Christian, no matter what hat I am wearing. And I don't hide it, yet I don't shine it in peoples faces either. Now I am not trying to tell any of you how to witness or how you should be. I am just pointing out the adage that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A softer, milder approach to witnessing, I have found, often produces the most results, the most fruit. I am always ready and willing to answer questions or discuss religious topics with any who ask. But for those not of faith I always wait for them to ask. And you would be surprised how many do. I have had many a debate and discussion on here with members who are atheists, agnostics, pagans. And some I now call friends and would welcome them into my home anytime. They are good people and they know where I stand and I know where they stand and we don't try to convince each other of the validity or the error of our particular beliefs. But my light shines. And it is there and they see it. And it is my hope that someday it will draw them to it and they will ask me to explain to them what it means. I guess the point of this is to just point out to others of faith here that we need not preach the gospel at every street corner we come to. To shine our light so brightly that it blinds others and causes them to turn away. Yet we do not hide that light either. We have our own forum here just for those of us with Faith and Religion to come and to talk to fellowship and to teach. And we can steer any with questions or needs to come here. Politics and religion are probably the two most divisive topics ever to be discussed on any forum. And has been the death of more than one. That is why I for one am very grateful to Melbo for establishing this forum just for us. It was a risky move and one we debated the pros and cons of. But it has worked well for us so far and I hope to keep it running smooth and free of the flame wars that so often erupt in this type of forum. That is why I have little tolerance for those with no faith, no religion, that come here just to debate, ridicule and stir up strife. Discussion of religious topics is one thing but a blatant attempt to just inject ridicule and venom into a discussion will not be tolerated. But likewise, we as the faithful should refrain from injecting our light into conversations in the other forums, unless it is directly relevant to the discussion. We must always ask ourselves, "is my light shining brightly or is it blinding". If it is blinding then we are turning people away, not drawing them in. God Bless and I am proud of all the brothers and sisters here who bless my heart on this board. If we never meet in this life, please look me up in Heaven! I'll be with the hairy biker guys over in the corner. Or in God's office getting chewed out for smuggling in fire water from down under! Or for letting the cat out of the bag and telling the Presbyterians that they weren't the only ones there, or running up and down the streets in the Jehovah witnesses neighborhood and knocking on all the doors. Or laughing at the priests and monks and telling them "It said CELEBRATE!!!" .