Time to walk away

When in conversation with someone about the gospel, when is it time to admit they aren’t interested in listening, that they just want to fight, and that it’s a waste of time to continue the conversation?

I find myself in this situation more than usual lately.  I look at Jesus, and he never seemed bothered by people walking away from him.  There were instances where HE walked away from THEM.  How do you know when it’s time to do that?

I, unlike Jesus, have a bit of a Messiah complex.  I feel a need to save people, to fix them.  I’ve learned that this impulse arises from a core belief that people are incompetent losers, that they are hopeless unless I fix them.  I’ve made a lot of progress in un-learning that belief, but I feel it raising its ugly head again lately.

There is nothing wrong with my wanting people to know Jesus for who he is.  What is unhealthy is my NEED for them to see.  It’s almost as if THEY see it, then it will make it easier for ME to see it.  It will be confirmation that I’m right.

So to walk away is painful to me.  It pokes at my doubts.  It looks to the other person like I’ve given up, that I’m admitting defeat in our argument. 

Jesus does not indulge in such foolishness.  He didn’t need the affirmation that comes from his opponents coming to agree with him.  Which means I don’t need it either.  He follows Father, and that’s enough.  For him and for me.

When I’m done with a conversation, it’s okay for me to say “Let me know how that works out for you,” and walk away.

Perhaps this can be part of my Lenten discipline.  Not winning.  Letting Jesus win in his own way.

~ by John Stonecypher

2 comments so far

  1. John Geerlings on

    Great post John
    It resonated with me in all aspects! I have to learn to rest and let the Holy Spirit convince people rather than impose my own insecurity of wanting them to believe what I believe. Yes, he may use me, but not to feed my flesh, rather to honor the Father! jg

  2. Boyd Merriman on

    Though I am not a type of person that feels compelled to talk to non Christians (is that a proper word?) about Christ, I do work with those who are Christians where they feel compelled to go out and do so.
    It is our responsibility to at least be concerned for others and let them know, but not necessarily try to “save” them.

    I let these well meaning Christians who go out and try to “save” others that they are trying to do God’s job, and our job is to be witnesses, not soul savers (I know, there is a clarification needed here for the meaning of “soul savers”). Big difference!

    On the other hand, I feel more of a call to encourage those who are already Christians and help them to see more clearly, to understand their relationship with God and how they are included and loved and embraced. Not everyone is called to go out and “save souls”, but all are called to be witnesses. So I witness more to those who need further encouragement and understanding in Christianity than I do going out to non Christians directly, though I am available and will talk with them.

    If they do not “get it” yet, then I will take the assumed role of being a link in a long chain in their lives towards understanding. One day, someone will reap the reward of bringing that person into that final big step of baptism into Christ.


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