Everyone Proselytizes

While we were in Manhattan, we saw two people proselytizing (proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ) using a megaphone in Union Square and another in the subway. They were both preaching the warnings of sin and the impending judgment. It was disappointing that Christ Himself appeared to be less exalted than the sins of man. At Union Square people were watching, listening, ignoring, but all looked completely uninterested. In the subway, people just walked on by as if it wasn’t happening. This is the typical image people have of evangelism, proselytizing the coming judgment of God on people for their sins and it’s typical because most street preachers focus on this. For most people who don’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord, this seems ludicrous and most would rather he be silent and simply live out his faith, but I believe the reality is that everyone proselytizes about something, some cause, some event, some show, something.

Amber found this quote from C.S. Lewis that I think outlines perfectly what I’m trying to say:

But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or any thing – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless (sometimes even if) shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise-lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game-praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least . . .

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise what ever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

-C.S. Lewis

I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t proselytize, I think the question is now whether the thing you praise is truly worthy of infinite value? If you’re a Christian, you are proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the ultimate value of your life. Is that reflected in what you praise?


Cross-posted from Gentrified.