Gary and I stayed at a hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for four nights at a very good rate, plus we were offered a $150 gift card.
All we had to do was promise to sit through a two-hour presentation the second day of our vacation.
They didn't say "timeshare" during the phone call, but we knew that's what we were signing up for.
Sure, we'll take a cheap vacation! We know how to say "no."
Now, I don't want to upset any readers who may have already purchased a timeshare. I imagine it may work for certain families who like to vacation in a certain way.
We are not one of those families.
We wouldn't feel comfortable staying in a fancy resort like the one in Puerto Rico in my title graphic above. We like things a little simpler. We don't want to be locked into anything.
As I've pondered timeshares since our trip, I've thought about sharing our faith and how it might seem like a timeshare to some people.
Say a prayer and you get to go to heaven? Yeah, right! What aren't you telling me?
When we got to our presentation, we started out in a room full of about twenty people. The guy in front rattled off tons of information and explained why vacationing this way just made perfect sense.
He showed pictures of beautiful resorts and explained how you could go practically anywhere and save so much money if you just owned so many "points" with their company.
When he got done, he turned us over to our personal representative. Our guy sat us down and asked if we had any questions. When we said we weren't interested, he said he understood but he still needed to show us the showrooms so he'd be doing his job well.
We walked through the cabin, then the townhouse, and then the yurt. They were very nice, we had to admit. On the way back inside, we told him we still weren't interested. He said fine, but he needed to have his boss come and show us some other options before we finished.
Boss came, showed us two more options. We said we still weren't interested, signed a paper saying so, and then our representative led us to the desk to get our gift card and we were on our way back to our hotel. Whew! We made it out without caving in!
How much different it should be when we're sharing our faith with others.
First of all, we need to be honest. We share our lives with all of its ups and downs, showing how our faith in God helps us to keep going. We can't tell people that everything is going to be like staying a luxury resort with all of the amenities after they accept Christ.
It's going to cost them something. Sometimes it will be financial costs, sometimes it will be emotional or relational costs. But it will all be worth it.
Next, we need to keep offering this relationship with Christ.
One of the things I noticed about the timeshare presentation was how many times they emphasized the fact that it was "today only." They are in real estate and they legally can't offer the incentives again later.
They created a sense of urgency. They wanted us to think, "Oh my gosh, this is a pretty good deal! I better sign up today or I won't get a chance again."
It's so different from the Gospel message. Of course, as Christians we feel the urgency of introducing people to Christ so that their eternal destiny is assured in heaven. It's important!
However, we don't have to pressure someone into accepting Christ. We trust the Holy Spirit to work in that person's heart until they are ready to surrender. We can share the Gospel and let them go home and think about it...praying that they will make that decision to "buy" when the time is right.
Finally, we always speak in love. Our timeshare reps were very nice, very understanding, and very low pressure. They told us about their company, showed us around, and smiled when we told them "no."
We've heard about companies that are not so nice. They make you stay for hours and hours as they try to convince you why you should buy their timeshare. They get downright rude.
Years ago, we sat through a presentation like that. We finally got away, but it left a very bad taste in our mouth for that company. I'm sure we would never consider them or recommend them to anyone.
We don't want to be like that with the Gospel message. We present it with love, especially to those we've already developed a relationship with. When people say no, we need to continue being kind and live out our faith in hopes that someday they'll change their minds. It does no good to beat people over the head with our Bibles. That would make them that much more skeptical and wary of those called "Christians."
So no, we don't own a timeshare...but we're looking forward to an absolutely beautiful final home.
"Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" (2 Corinthians 3:7-11 NIV)
Are you skeptical about offers that seem too good to be true? Do most people feel this way about the Gospel? How can focusing on God help you to share your faith in honest, low-pressure, loving ways?