WINNING NEW CHRISTIANS: 8 Excerpts from a Great Lecture
1) Be holy! – become absolutely convinced that this is what you exist to be: holy.
2) Love your neighbor! – rather than talk about loving one’s neighbor.
3) Truth leads to my holiness! – rather than truth leading to winning arguments.
4) Admit your fault! – the reason that I am not holy is because I don’t wholly want to be.
5) Holiness isn’t for him or her, it’s for me! If I’m not called to be a monk, I am called to be a saint!
6) Be a Christian who sacrifices like Jesus!
7) Holiness is about me, now! It is not about past people in past ages.
8) Emulation rather than admiration! Don’t just admire holy people of the past – emulate them.
Holiness isn’t over there, it’s right here.
Holiness isn’t for him or her, it’s for me.
Holiness isn’t in the past, it’s for my present.
Holiness isn’t something I talk about, it’s something I live.
Holiness isn’t for the few who rise above the world,
it’s for all to transform the world.
Holiness isn’t a once in a while thing,
it’s a radical and personal commitment
which I must make today and every day,
to become holy, as God is holy.
Harry Crocker, a writer and speaker, gave a lecture in 2003 entitled: WINNING CONVERTS THE ANCIENT WAY. The above 8 points are bites from his very thoughtful and helpful lecture. Here are some extended thoughts on the same 8 points. (The 8 points were not given as 8 points in the lecture, but are my own ordering of his presentation.)
1) “The Church will succeed by one thing and one thing only; by the success it has in inspiring an absolutely radical, personal commitment of the faithful to live as Saints.” Crocker determines that the best way, the real way, to win people to Christ Jesus is to first become holy. If I make a radical and personal commitment to become holy, as God is holy, I will become an infectious evangelizer. I will not even need to try to evangelize. The Spirit of Christ Jesus will exude from me and people will be drawn to want to know what my secret is.
2) “You don’t win hearts and minds by handing out books and tracts. You win hearts and minds by loving your neighbor as yourself.” Crocker goes on to say that this is not an either / or issue: either I persuade people through reason or I persuade people through my actions. He simply states that while both are necessary, personal witness has always been the more effective way of winning converts. I can tell people what they ought to do or I can do what I would tell people they ought to do. I can talk about what a Christian is like, or I can demonstrate what it means to be a Christian.
3) “An authentic appropriation of the truth always leads to a striving for holiness.” Crocker speaks about the tendency to grab a truth and ram it into someone. When I learn a truth, I should ram it down my own throat, until it gets into my heart to change me, so that I want to live in this truth. The best of intellectuals search for truth to fulfill themselves first, and then share what they have first learned and begun to live.
4) “If you look into your own heart in utter honesty, you must admit that there was one and only one reason why you are not even now as saintly as the primitive Christians: you do not wholly want to be.” Crocker quotes from William Law as found in Peter Kreeft’s How to Win the Culture War. Is my whole being convinced and ready to become holy, without making excuses?
5) “If we are not called to be monks, we are most certainly called to be saints.” It does not matter what my occupation. My vocation is to be holy. We are all supposed to love without counting the cost. We are all supposed to view people with unconditional love and respect and welcome. We are all supposed to be patient, tolerant and kind. We are all supposed to love the goodness of creation. This is not for someone else, with a different life, in different circumstances. It is for me. It is for now.
6) “We have decided to give without counting the cost.” Crocker continues this universal call to be holy by purifying our motivation for doing this or that. I don’t do this because it’s what Christians have always done. I don’t do this because natural law says to do this. I don’t do this for any other reason or argument, as good as it may be. I do this because I have decided to follow Jesus. He speaks about the ancient Christians and how they convinced the pagans to become Christian by the way they lived and loved. “Look how they love,” the pagans would comment. Crocker goes on to share a story about a woman who was abandoned by her husband and needed to find a way to raise her children. Christians filled her fridge with food, her wallet with cash. She became a Christian because of the way they loved her.
7) “Sanctity is not just for the men and women of history that we look up to and see reflected in stained glass, it is for us.” Our homes must be seedbeds, that our children will grow up with a convinced desire to be holy, in whatever profession they pursue.
My 1st job (reason for existence): holiness.
My 2nd job (occupation): not as important.
8) “We must remember not just to admire these saints, to pray for their intercession, but to emulate them.” The same theme has been repeated over and over: holiness isn’t over there, it’s right here; holiness isn’t for him or her, it’s for me; holiness isn’t for the past, it’s for my present; holiness isn’t something I talk about, it’s something I live; holiness isn’t for the few who rise above the world, it’s for all to transform the world; holiness isn’t a once in a while thing, it’s a radical and personal commitment which I must make today and every day, to become holy, as God is holy.