Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Peeling the Apple

March 13th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Faith and the City

I recently asked the congregation to submit questions that they would like to hear addressed in the pulpit.  The most common question we received was: “Is Jesus the only way?”

In a place like New York, this makes sense to me.  How, in the midst of this rough-and-tumble diversity, am I to think about what may be distinctive about my beliefs?

Yesterday morning I was wrestling with this as I sat at one of the monthly, “Partnership of Faith” events I attend at Central Synagogue on 55th and Lexington.  There, in that beautiful atrium, pastors and priests, rabbis and imams, men and women, clergy of different colors and ideologies, gather to discuss ways that we can work together in this city.  We are an incredibly diverse crew, so diverse that it can get uncomfortable at times.

In some ways, the dance we do at the “Partnership” group is a microcosm of faith in this city.  How can I believe without being a bully to my neighbor?  How can I follow Christ and not demean other faiths?  When am I supposed to actively proselytize and when am I supposed to be simply hospitable?

One of my favorite evangelism stories comes from the great German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer once described his grandfather coming out onto the porch and peeling an apple.  His grandfather did not come out and say, “Hey, you kids come over here and eat some apple.  It’s good for you!”

Instead, he would sit and slowly peel it—one long, elegant, red curl, juice running down his arm.  Gradually, the grandchildren would gather around, their mouths salivating.  When he had finished, he looked up at them from under bushy eyebrows and said, “Oh… Would you like some?”

That’s evangelism, said Bonhoeffer.

Seems right to me.

What do you think?

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Sue WilliamsNo Gravatar

    As always, I love the analogy and want some of the apple! Best wishes for your blog, Scott.

  • SBJNo Gravatar


    Hugs to you! We need some poetry posts from you on this blog.

    See you soon, I hope.


  • Susan FeightnerNo Gravatar

    When I follow Christ, I don’t worry about “demeaning” other faiths. I worry about those who are not following Christ.