In our small town there are about four barber shops. Two of them, oddly, are on the same block, just a few doors apart. I will refer to them a "barbershop A" and "barbershop B."
A while back, I was looking for a new barber (now that I work on the island and can't get to Great Clips easily). I had heard good things about barbershop A and I went to find it quickly one day at lunch. But I accidentally walked in to barbershop B (not realizing there were two).
My experience in barbershop B was a bid odd. The lady who ran it was sitting in the corner. I was her only patron. She sat me up in the chair, put the towel around my neck. Then, rather than slicing my throat as Mr. Todd would have (Sweeney Todd if you don't know) she pulled up a TV right in front of me and turned it to the TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network). There were the clowns with the big hair and demands for money. It was clear that the barber wanted me to watch it as her "evangelistic technique." If you know me, I despise TBN. It makes me sick to my stomach. Those people are so far out of touch with reality that it is simply bizarre. But she kept commenting with sighs, "Wow. God is good. Hallelujah!" all said in whispers.
But that was a long time ago. Yesterday, I did find barbershop A and went in for a haircut. Once again I was the only patron. As the barber had me in the seat, we were just making small talk. I asked how long he had been there. "Two years," he said.
I made the comment, "I tried to find you once before but went to the wrong shop." He just cut my hair in silence. Then I said something that I would later regret. I don't know why I just don't keep my mouth shut. I said, "Yeah, it was an odd experience in the other shop as I was required to watch TV evangelists, you know, the lady with the big blue hair."
My dear barber A, cleared his throat, "Well, I will tell you that I'm a Christian too (referring to the lady forcing me watch TBN as the other Christian part of too)." He didn't look very happy with me. Then he added, "I try not to share Jesus with my patrons unless they bring it up first (implying that I had just opened Pandora's praise book).
Now I know what goes on in the "Fun House" because I was an Evangelical for 30 years and was the guy at the door trying to get you to enter. But I know how it works. I want you in the Fun House (and I mean here by "Fun House" as the evangelistic conversation or our take on "sharing the gospel") because I desperately wanted God to like me, and He rarely did, and I wanted to like myself, which I also rarely did. So, by "evangelizing" someone, or entering such an evangelistic conversation, I had some greater sense of self-worth.
I could also create some sense of self worth but picking out the sin of the unbeliever, "So you live with your girlfriend? God has something better for you as He has said that fornication is sin."
Now, if the person told me that they were a Christian, then I could only get an increased personal sense of worth if I gently and insidiously broke down their Christianity. Now this has to be done with slight of hand, distorted mirrors and hidden doors, so that I wouldn't be blatant. I would do this by listing all the great works I had done for God, but say it in a way that God alone seems to get the praise (more distorted mirrors). Then I would criticize the other Christian's accomplishments. "How many people are in your Bible study? Oh, three? Hmm. I know that when I learned to pray earnestly and trust God I saw my Bible study grow to twenty (do you see how the wrapped mirror makes me look skinny and the other guy fat?)
But I think I've made my point. It is ironic that I have a passion for honest conversations about theology, the gospel, personal suffering, pain, philosophy, science, arts, history . . . or anything. But I hate so much to enter "Christian" conversations in the House of Fun.