Sharing your faith is all in the timing

Timing, they say, is everything. Actors need good timing. So do comedians and athletes aiming for a punch line or curve ball. Timing is important for evangelists too.

Timing, they say, is everything.

Actors need good timing. So do comedians and athletes aiming for a punch line or curve ball.

Timing is important for evangelists too.

People who have faith are often eager to give away their faith. Good news is for sharing, we used to say.

The drive to convert may be raw numbers or a genuine concern for the eternal welfare of others. There are courses and booklets to instruct believers on how to evangelize effectively.

But sometimes zeal throws off timing.

Two weeks ago while running the Chicago Marathon, the crowd of spectators was characteristically large and loud, screaming support for their loved ones and the rest of this pack of puffing strangers. They held up signs of support, shook cowbells.

They handed out orange slices and high fives.

With my telltale red and white Canuck singlet, people yelled out “Yeah Canada.”

I gave them my best friendly Canadian wave back.

About the halfway point, having run over 20 kilometres, I spotted a huge high banner held up in the crowd with the message, “The wages of sin is death.”

Now I know that to be the first half of a verse in the bible (Romans 6:23).

The banner Christian did not bother to include the rest of verse that “the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

All we heard about was the perdition earned by a life of transgression.

My only thought at that point was somewhat unchristian I confess. Thanks buddy.

Maybe your heart was in a good place because you wanted to convey the caveat to the 38,000 of us who, at that point in the race, were already sensing a metaphorical death as we wilted in the heat, that it was hell and not the finish line that may loom on the horizon. But your timing was way off.

I can’t imagine you scared anyone into the Kingdom that day.

To be frank, out of the estimated 1.7 million people of all nationalities and faiths cheering on the runners, you came across as the biggest jerk.

In the interest of fairness, as we later passed by the famous Moody Church on LaSalle Avenue on this Sunday morning, the congregants were out in force with matching T-shirts, blasting the theme from the movie Rocky and cheering us all on to the finish line.

Someone’s sign reminded me that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Another bible verse.

Thanks folks. You did more for the cause of Christ than if you’d been holed up in the church praising Jesus and grumbling about the road being closed in front of your church. Great timing.

I’m not questioning the message here. Just the timing of the delivery.

When someone is tired or distraught, maybe the best way to share faith is with strength and comfort instead of chapter and verse.

A friend’s wife had been given a cancer diagnosis.

Sharing the bad news with a pastor, he needed to hear “I’m so sorry. What can I do?”

The pastor’s first comment was that God must have a plan in it.

My friend told me what he wanted to say to the pastor at that moment but I can’t reprint it here.

Timing again.

The scribe of Ecclesiastes suggested that everything has its season; that there is a time for every purpose under heaven.

That includes the sharing of faith.

Rev. Bob Ripley, author and syndicated columnist, is the retired senior minister of Metropolitan United Church in London, Ont.