I once saw an amazing documentary about the World Hair Olympics. Stylists from around the globe met together in one venue to ‘out-do’ each other and win the grand hairdressing prize.
The hairdressers trained for more than a year to do only one hairstyle each. It was planned down to the minutest detail of cut, colour and length. Curls were flicked and sprayed to exact angles. Feathers and flowers were added. The results were like nothing I’ve ever had on my head!
Each stylist practiced on mannequin heads for months leading up to the actual event when they used a real person. The heads were washed, blow dried, coloured and then washed, blow dried and coloured again.
Once the competition was over and the heads had lost their purpose, they were discarded.
Where did they end up?
Not on an urban rubbish heap. These particular mannequin heads were given to the local police department to be used as target practice. Each head was mounted on a spike while police officers fired round after round into them.
It is possible for us to treat people who do not yet know Christ in a similar way to these mannequin heads.
We get to know them and we spend time with them but it’s only until they’ve served their purpose. Then when we’re ready, we target them and fill them, bang bang bang, with the gospel message.
I would hope that no Christian would ever consciously target someone else for evangelism in this way. However, it is an easy trap to fall into. There are many reasons we do it -- and many of them are good reasons.
Sometimes we value the importance and the truth of the Gospel message so much that we forget the value and importance of the people we are sharing it with. A feeling of urgency can make the end result seem more important than the process.
Targeting people is foul. Being friends with people in order to ‘get them along’ or invite them to a Bible study is basically using them for a quota system.
People know when they are being used. People know when they are being manipulated into ‘buying’ something, whether that’s a mobile phone, an overseas holiday, or a religious belief.
We should be friends with people because they are people – because they are God’s creations, loved by God. And our lives should be so imbued with the love of God that sharing Jesus will come out in natural, gentle ways.
People will see our lives and hear our speech and know that God has made that difference because we are open. When we are lovingly curious about their lives and want to share them, they may pay us the compliment of being curious about our lives and the God that we serve.