10/10/12 Jason, about 25
I stopped near a train station on my way home from work looking to initiate a gospel conversation, and a young man on the sidewalk named Jason agreed to answer my questions about his beliefs. Something told me he might not have long to talk, so I offered to walk with him rather than just stand there to talk. He took me up on my offer, and we walked and talked for at least a mile on his way to his house. Jason grew up Catholic and Lutheran, believes he has "been there and done that" with Christianity and has been checking out other religions. I challenged some of his assumptions that all religions are basically the same, since only Christianity solves the problem of God demonstrating both perfect love and perfect justice at the same time. As it turned out, Jason did have an appointment to keep, and my decision to walk with him allowed our conversation to be much longer than it would have been had I not offered to do so. We parted ways at a good place in our talk, with Jason knowing he has some thinking to do. I had a long walk back to my car as a result, and as I walked back thoughts of "going the extra mile" came to mind. How are we to "go the extra mile" when it comes to witnessing to strangers whom we may never see again? In the context of His "Sermon on the Mount" and his commands to love one's enemies, Jesus said "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles." (Matt. 5:41) In our American church circles, since we have no natural enemies such as the Romans of Jesus' day, we often misapply "going the extra mile" to those who are not our enemies, such as our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But in this passage Jesus clearly directs how our attitude should be toward our enemies or at least outsiders, that we should be willing to go beyond expectations and established norms in our treatment of others. What does that mean for witnessing? I believe that to "go the extra mile" with outsiders or strangers means we are to go beyond the established social norms of common courtesy - the pleasant greeting, the polite avoidance of conflict, or the exchange of affirmation. The extra mile means caring for the entire person - including their soul - and maybe being willing to step out of our comfort zone and risk personal rejection in the process. Jesus commands His disciples to be "fishers of men" and to "go the extra mile". I'm thinking the two commands are pretty much the same.