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We don’t really love people

The pastor I noted below was talking about how Christians go out and “love people” all the time. We’re called to love, we’re called to “outreach” but consistently, people outside Christianity do not feel loved. Why? Because we are always giving, we are never humble enough to accept that we need to receive from them in the areas that matter most to us. So there is not sacred human connection because there is no real exchange. We do not accept the possibility that others have something to add to our experiences with God, the Gospel, faith, spirituality, justice and hope. So while we “love” others ad nauseum, we are always saying things like this (either verbally or in our hearts):

I love you but I hate your sin
I love the potential in you
I love you the way God loves you

but as Christians, can we simply LIKE people for who they are and what they have to add to our lives and our experiences. We don’t often connect with others spiritually unless they are like minded Christians. But could it be that God is present in them and that we have much to receive from them? Could it be that when we open ourselves up to receiving God from the other, we are practicing true, genuine and Christ-like “evangelism”?

What I have always heard growing up was that you can’t listen to other religions, you can’t spend too much time with people from other religions and you certainly can’t learn from other religions (or anti religions). You might become tainted, you might doubt Christianity, you might “fall away”. Is our God so small?

The pastor goes on to tell a story of a friend who asked why Christians are absent from the places where they can’t be in charge. Not just in charge of the event but in charge of God himself. In other words - book clubs, philosophy discussions, classes - unless they are defined as Christian where the spiritual content is controlled and managed by our ideas of what and who God is and where God is.

How can we ask the other to doubt their suppositions about faith and spirituality and consider our ideas and learn from us if we aren’t even humble enough to learn from them and see God in them?

[tags]spirituality, evangelism, humility, faith, love[/tags]

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  1. Paul — February 17, 2007 #

    One of the most interesting/profound things i took from watching a programme on TV the other night called ‘God is green’ was how many religions have something at the heart of their sacred texts about caring for the planet - it was fascinating seeing this christian presenter interviewing hindus and muslims as well as evengelical american christians and exploring not just what the bible says but what their own faith teachings said…

    I found that quite humbling in that often we look to overthrow a different faith, prove it wrong etc but this was an insight in how to view/engage/explore what all religions could do if they took these texts seriously…

  2. Ari — February 17, 2007 #

    I think that’s a great example of an area where we can certainly learn from the other - even in a spiritual sense.

    I know a couple wiccans and pagans and they have a very deep spiritual connection to the earth. They connect with God through nature. So to be able to see that and respect that and learn from that goes a long way in making a sacred connection with them. like paul said about the idol to the unknown god..he didn’t say “oh, that’s a false god, that isn’t really God” He said, let me tell you who this is. I think that’s very profound.

  3. robbymac — February 19, 2007 #

    Hey Ari,

    A drummer in the Celtic rock band I was once a part of qualifies as an amazing friend, despite his pagan beliefs, occasional mock of my Jesus-faith, and questionable morality (hey, he’s a drummer, after all).

    You see, once upon a time, my wife Wendy was in the hospital and they thought she was having a stroke. The drummer heard about it, and came and sat in the ICU with me for over five hours.

    That’s what friends do, and he was a blessing to me that day.

    Of course, that probably opens another can o’ worms about my presence as a Christian in a secular band playing pubs, bars, and festivals…

  4. Ari — February 19, 2007 #

    robbymac, good to see you here :)

    you’re all about opening cans of worms aren’t you buddy? ;) It’s so interesting to me how this sort of “thing” just doesn’t seem all that “radical” to me. I mean, I see how it deviates from the status quo but in terms of theology, doctrine, etc. the idea of embracing the other and seeing God in the other makes total sense. And the idea of a Christian playing in a “secular” rock band makes total sense. Which is why when I face opposition for my ideas I end up stuttering and stammering for a response because it seems bizarre to me that people would have a problem with it. Or I get defensive and angry - which of course is not exactly the most effective way of dealing with opposition hehe.

    I hear sermons and read books about being missional and having a sort of radical orthodoxy and I resonate so strongly with it I have to remember that there has to be a Spirit-working there in order for change or even motion to happen. Extending grace to the preservationists is something I am finding very very difficult to do.

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