Jesus vs The World: It shouldn’t be that way

So in my new efforts to love people in ways that matter to them, and in my attempts to obey God, I’ve been searching the blogs for topics on faith and healing, just to see who else is out here talking about this.

I found this really interesting post from someone who I think considers themselves post-Christian. The feeling was that the blogger understood and respected many Christians, but felt bogged down by the only-one-way doctrine and also felt judged by Christians when he disagreed with their methods or beliefs.

He (I think the blogger is a ‘he’) had some insightful things to say, and I just felt a little sad that I’ve been the annoying Christian harping on heaven vs hell, creating a divide between people and God when they were possibly much closer before I got there. I don’t want to guilt anyone into heaven. And neither does God, for goodness sake.

Here is an excerpt of his post. And my response is below. I tried to be as honest as I could because I am so thankful for his candor, and people who want to talk about Jesus just need to know how to do it authentically and kindly, know how to respect the rights and privacy of others while also caring passionately about their lives. It’s hard to walk that line, but it’s worth it to try.

How some Christians appear to non-Christians [photo cred: howtopersuadepeople.net]
From Equality4Love, a post entitled Evangelicals vs Everyone else:

“When I reached high school I came to the conclusion that Christianity was just one of many paths to God. I kept this belief to myself because I lived in a predominately Christian community and I was afraid of what others would think. Then I went off to college. But instead of finding a community that I was comfortable with sharing my theories, I found myself drawn into another evangelical ministry. I think it’s because that’s what I was familiar with. I’m a creature of habit, despite my disagreement with the habit. I went out on my college campus with the mission of talking with others about Jesus. I shared the same story every evangelizer tells, almost down to the same words. I was caught up in a community that encouraged this, so I continued to do “God’s work” for four years. I loved that group of people. They were loving, welcoming, and they genuinely cared about me. But I also disliked the group as a whole, because I lost my individuality and courage to stand up for what I believe. I was afraid of being different than the rest of them.” {Read the entire post here.}

And here is my (possibly too-long) response:

“It sounds like you are discussing your beliefs very respectfully here. So that’s a good start. :) I’m really sorry you’ve had this ostracizing experience with Christians. That isn’t cool. I guess I’m an Evangelical, although the baggage we all associate with the term makes me want to toss it off. I’ve shared my faith with many people, and for many different motives. You’re right that we really care, and you know from experience.

But my motives are sometimes messed up. It’s weird. One day I can feel this deep love and compassion for others and I will sense God ask me to talk with or pray with someone. Maybe even a stranger. And my motive that comes from love usually resonates with the person, and even if they disagree with me, they still feel loved and recognized by me because I took the time to say, “Hey, I’m going to stop my day to tell you God sees you, knows you and loves you.” That has a big impact.

Where I run into walls is when I start doing it like a job, where I “evangelize” out of fear because I don’t want God to be mad at me. Or I want to do my “Christian duty”. It seems okay to do that, but people can feel that underlying manipulation that rides on the back of my message. I’m afraid that if they don’t say “Yes” to Jesus, they will go to hell and/or God will be mad at me for not sharing my story. I’m sure some people would respond to that anyway, but not many.

I think most Christians feel guilted into sharing their faith, even though the guilt is not coming from God. And the biggest issue is they don’t really feel or experience the love and friendship of Jesus, which truly makes you want to talk about it with others. It’s too good to keep to yourself when it’s real. But when I get all disconnected and resentful and afraid, then I suck at telling my story. I turn into a used car salesman, feeling like I have to “sell” the Gospel, and it’s so easy to pick up on that manipulation. People do, and then they feel like they’re getting guilted into following God. That sucks.

So that’s my thoughts and my experience. Thanks for being honest here. It’s really helpful to get this feedback.

And by the way, I’m trying to start a video blog series about my experiences with praying for people and talking about Jesus. I’m often afraid to do it, but when I do, I often get some cool stories and people feel loved. And that’s my goal. Love God by loving people. I don’t want to be a fake. So I’m trying to be genuine AND brave. Love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks. https://sarahsiders.com/2013/03/17/stories-of-fear-and-faith-a-video-series/

What do you think? How do Christians come across when sharing their faith?

 

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