Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This past weekend I went to the bookstore in search of a particular book, Lord Save Us From Your Followers. After seeing this new book, the title intrigued me. However, the book wasn't available. Undaunted I roamed the store and saw another book that peaked my curiosity. Unchristian, written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Happy with my purchase I set out for home and devoured the book within one day. This is a book based on 3 years of research about what the younger generation, particularly those 16-29 years of age, really think about Christianity. Eyeopening----yes, but not surprising to me as I read what "outsiders" (the term the book used) really think about the followers of Jesus. Said many times by those interviewed, it's not Jesus they have a problem with, but rather those who call themselves His followers. One man stated this about Christianity. "Christianity has become bloated with blind followers who would rather repeat slogans than actually feel true compassion and care. Christianity has become marketed and streamlined into a juggernaut of of fearmongering that has lost its own heart." WOW!
It wasn't surprising to me that those on the outside view Christians as hypocritical, sheltered, have a get saved mentality, anti-homosexual, judgmental, and too political. I've often said if your going to talk the talk walk the walk. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. I often find it unbelievable that a lot of Christians expect those who aren't christian to have the same ideals about morality that they do. Judgments are made about people without even getting to know the person. We jump to conclusions that often lead us camped out on the side of the road somewhere and wondering what the heck just happened. Are we really being Christ like? Are we following Jesus' example of Grace?
One job that I had, all the employees would meet in the morning and have prayer in the break room before clocking in. One day while working, a group of women were clustered together, and one said "Did you hear about that gay pride parade their having?" Yeah, one girl replied. "We'll I hope God strikes them all with lightning!" I couldn't believe what I just heard. Weren't these the same women I prayed with every morning? Unable to contain my anger and hold my tongue I stood up walked over and stated the following " The last time I checked God's Grace was extended to everyone. Do they not deserve the same Grace. Sin is sin, and there is no sin greater than the other." No one said a word. I'm not sure if they were caught off guard or simply searching their mind for a comeback reply. But none answered, they just looked at each other and quietly walked away. I have a couple of family members who are Gay, Muslim, and Louis Farrakhan Muslim, but I love them regardless of their sexual orientation or religion. Everyone in my family knows were I stand on these issues. We've had candid conversations, but at no time was I hateful, spiteful, or lacking compassion. I am simply the instrument that God uses. But if I'm brash and offensive I've totally turned this individual off and they may never come to know Jesus. It's about creating meaningful relationships and letting God do the rest.
A friend Kristina Alford has issued a challenge called the 3 challenge. Here it is in her own words:
The 3 Challenge:
Pray and ask God to reveal at least 3 people in our lives that we could be friends with.
Purposefully pray for them.
Purposefully set up times for coffee, lunch, dinner or outings to just hang out and do stuff with.
Invite them to be a part of our life—the good, the bad & the ugly of our lives
(Christ Followers aren’t perfect ya know—so key: to just be real…)
Realize that no matter what happens that we must choose to continue the friendship…even if they never come to know Christ…
a side note:
the idea was to not be so
“in your face”
and religious or fake…
but rather kind and encouraging,
simple, and real about life.
Growing up in the church I've seen some things done right and some done horribly wrong. If we are ever going to engage "outsiders" we must be honest with ourselves and evaluate what we've done wrong, learn from our mistakes and be willing to reach out to others in kindness, compassion, and love. I will leave you with this excerpt from the book Unchristian:
"Stephen, a seventeen-year-old from New Hampshire, offered this gut-wrenching description of his life in one of our survey: "what is God? Simply put, God is a figment of our minds grasping the sad fact that we have nothing else to believe in. I live alone. I am alone. I will always be alone. So Why should I lie to myself about a God that lets me live a life where the only people I care for treat me like s----? I want to die every day; that is my one wish. I pray to God for that, sure, but it's only because I need something. Every day I have to go through realizing that my life amounts to nothing. I quit."
"Does this tear you up? Do his thoughts about God offend you, or do you see them for what they are: an expression of his deep hurt? What would it take to help him, to keep him from suicide, to really see and develop his potential to be a Christ follower? It would take more than a few nice conversations. It would take sincere, deep engagement over many months to deal with his depression and anguish."
I recommend that everyone read this book!