What about the men who run around the countryside painting signs that say "Jesus saves" and "Prepare to meet God"? Have you ever seen one of them? I have not, but I often try to imagine them, and I wonder what goes on in their minds. Strangely, their signs do not make me think of Jesus, but of them. Or perhaps it is "their Jesus" who gets in the way and makes all thought of Jesus impossible. They wish to force their Jesus upon us, and He is perhaps only a projection of themselves. They seem to be at times threatening the world with judgement and at other times promising it mercy. But are they asking simply to be loved and recognized and valued, for themselves?
In any case, their Jesus is quite different from mine. But because their concept is different, should I reject it with horror, with distaste? If I do, perhaps I reject something in my own self that I no longer recognize to be there. And in any case, if I can tolerate their Jesus then I can accept and love them. Or I can at least conceive of doing so.
Let not their Jesus be a barrier between us, or they will be a barrier between us and Jesus.
I often wonder about this same question as I walk through Union Square Park and pass by the Christian preachers trying to convert the skater kids and others milling about the south end of the park at 14th Street. Last Friday, one of them was using a megaphone. On previous occasions, they have been miked.
It's not how I evangelize. But, does that make it bad?
(I do not know the creator of the Merton painting above. It's on-line in a few different places, including here.)