And then you see them. Through the floor-to-ceiling window adjacent to your well-kept front door you see two clean-cut, perfectly pressed, young men. The Mormon's have arrived. With a sigh of frustration, you turn the bolt and yank open the door. "Good aftern..." Elder so-and-so begins. Without making eye contact, you blurt, "I'm a Christian!" and shut ("slam" would be too harsh an adjective, surely) the door soundly in his face.
You have a fleeting twinge of guilt as you watch them scurry down the front walk, pea-sized hail pelting them as they lunge for their car doors. But the twinge is easily ignored as you give yourself a gentle pat on the back for standing up for what you believe in.
I laugh ironically as I coax this story, and a few others out of the two young men sitting at our kitchen table. They've come to share the good news of the book of Mormon with us ~~ undaunted by our insistence that we will not convert. They are young and idealistic and convinced of the rightness of their mission. And their impression of those of us who call ourselves "Christian" is framed by personal encounters of the impolite kind.
I tell a quick story of my own. My neighbors have seen us talking with the Mormon boys. One by one, sometimes in groups, they've asked me "Are you guys Mormon?" "Nope. Christian." I reply. And God conversations have been started as a result. God talk that I have not known how to initiate has been sparked by our attentiveness to those kind, helpful, earnest young men.
We know that we disagree on many things, us and the Mormon's. We understand that they are at our door to convince us of the truth of their way, and we know that we will not be convinced. But our differences do not justify rudeness. They do not justify judgement. Our differences, and the fact that they've shown up right in our front yard, provide us the opportunity to express the character, the unreserved tenderness, of Jesus.
So, the next time that doorbell clamours for your attention and your visitor is a faith peddler, leave them with something unusual to talk about at their evenings' debriefing. Leave them with the Jesus that you carry about with you ~~ leave them with a kindness, a prayer (they'll always let you pray with them, if you offer), a can of soda (they'll be pounding the street until well into the evening). Leave the judging up to God and just love them like you love yourself.
1 John 4