Do you have an annoying friend who just won’t stop talking about their favorite thing?
Don’t laugh; you know what I mean. This sort of friend looooooooves BBC or Stephen King or ice hockey, and what’s more, they know you will like it too if only they show you its understated glories. Therefore, they tell you everything you never wanted to know about Sherlock, The Shining, and the San Jose Sharks. You, on the other hand, couldn’t care less.
Now let me make one thing clear: if you are that kind of friend and love to talk to me about your favorite things (Amanda), I’m not taking a swing at you with this post. Far from it; I would argue that you are already doing the very thing that Christians need to do. That thing is summed up in a terrifying, five-syllable word:
Yes, it’s time to face what might be the greatest fear of most Christians. And that seems wrong- why would we all be so afraid to talk to our friends about our best Friend? I think Theodore Geisel, aka Dr Seuss, has the answer.
Sam I Am, pictured above, and his stubborn acquaintance, the nameless protagonist with a top hat, represent the total cast of the classic children’s book, Green Eggs and Ham. The protagonist starts out the story by saying how much he dislikes Sam, and though he doesn’t explain his reason, we soon find out why. Sam dashes around the corner bearing a tray of green eggs and ham. He offers it to his friend the protagonist, who understandably turns it down. Sam doesn’t give up, though, and drags his friend on a wild adventure, asking him when and where he will try this green breakfast. For the next sixty pages, Sam’s friend only gets angrier and angrier, eventually shouting at Sam that he does not like green eggs and ham!
At heart, we are all afraid of being Sam I Am. We like it when other people like us, and we hate knowing that they have a bad opinion of us. It’s why we avoid posting anything other than a flowery cross and an inspirational-verse-on-a-beach-backdrop on our Facebook walls. It’s why we keep quiet in school despite the constant attacks on truth. To speak about our beliefs is politically incorrect. If we would dare to say even the word “Christianity” outside of a medieval history class, everyone around us would say, “I do not like that Sam I Am.”
And for good reason. The devil tries to scare Jesus’ messengers into silence because they have the truth that destroys his lies. He can lie to everyone, even to Christians, and the most frightening thing is that all of us fall prey to these lies.
This seems to be an age-old problem, for Peter and the other apostles got themselves into a situation like this once. Even after Jesus returned to heaven, the Pharisees were still enemies of Jesus and forbade His followers from teaching about Him. Jesus, on the other hand, had commanded them to tell everyone in the world about the Good News. The apostles refused to give up, and God gave them the courage to keep on teaching even in the face of punishment.
And when [the Pharisees] had brought [the apostles], they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29 ESV)
Today Peter might have said, “I don’t care about any human opinion of Sam I Am. I care about I AM’s opinion of Sam.”
Like Sam’s friend, your teachers, your friends, and certainly your government will not like to hear you talk about the Gospel. Some of them will fight against you their whole life. Some of them, though, will listen, and both of you will be immensely grateful that you kept at it. Remember the end of Sam’s story, though- at the end of the road, some of them will be saying, “Thank you, thank you, Sam I Am!” And you will have the joy of saying, “No, thank God for giving me the courage to be the pesky Christian friend.”