The unexpected Saturday morning knock on the door sometimes engenders mild irritation, sometimes anxiety. What should I say to the well-mannered, well-groomed, youthful “elders” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or callers from the Kingdom Hall, for that matter)? Competing calls of family responsibility––Saturday morning is always a bad time for a visit––and Christian witness often lead to an unsettling angst for any layperson. The quick, “Sorry, I’m not interested” dismissal leaves me wondering whether I could have and should have done more.
Christians know that doctrinal departures are serious, but the visitors’ sincerity, dedication, and commitment to their cause and admirable values can obscure their perilous state. More than once have I rationalized, “These are fine young people. At least they’re not doing drugs and carrying guns. Surely God will send someone to straighten them out before it’s too late. My family needs me.” This sentimental view of the missionaries’ plight jeopardizes the opportunity for truth telling.
I have not handled every encounter gracefully, but for four weeks I managed to keep two guys coming back to my home for discussions. On the final visit I think I offended them, but not with my manner. I presented the gospel to them. Salvation by grace alone didn’t comport with their belief system. They left discouraged because I said (after they asked me) that if they died believing what they told me, they would not be going eternally where they hoped they were going.
The cross of Christ is an offense to some, the sweet news of salvation to others. May Christ use our lips to bring hope to the sincerely deceived.