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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Takes One To Know One

As I talk with other Christians about life and society and current events, it strikes me how suspicious we are of everyone. The atheists have taken over the public school system. The homosexuals want to turn all boys gay. The Mexicans are invading. The Muslims want to outlaw Christianity. Universal health care is communism. Don't watch The Golden Compass. The Mormons own Coca-Cola.

We're certain everyone is out to get us. Everyone surely has an ulterior motive and a hidden agenda. 

Of course I'm aware of the scriptural warning about the dangerous activity of our spiritual enemy. I know that we aren't safe. We have good reason to be watchful, wary, and wise.

But I'm also wondering if our paranoia might be due, at least in part, to that fact that we aren't always the most up-front about our agenda. Maybe we distrust the people and organizations around us because we have a long history of misleading people about who we are and what we really want from them. 

We're not just knocking on your door to say thanks for visiting our church; we want you to pray a prayer of salvation. You're invited to our fellowship, but we've carefully planned it as an entry point for you to join our church. We 're only giving out coats and blankets as bait to get you to sit through a sermon.  

Why is it okay for us to do it but scary when others do? Does it make a difference just because we're right?

I wonder what would happen if we were totally up front and honest about our agenda. What about giving up our agenda altogether?

 I suspect it might lead us to abandon many of our methods, approaches, and techniques. 


formerasianm said...

Excellent post. I felt dishonest at times when I was serving overseas, and I see many examples of the things you mention now that I'm back in the U.S.

Often, it seems that Christians are more concerned with the end results (salvation, making a decision) than with simply loving others. Yes, I want to see people have their lives changed by Jesus, but I also want to love them and serve them as if they WERE Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is the one who will draw someone to Christ. So let's show them HIS love rather than attempting to be manipulative.

Sorry for the ramble...

Camel rider said...

Great post.
We're struggling with these questions as well. We're professional Christians using a "platform" so we can share our faith. Would it be better if we were just believers working normal jobs and sharing Christ as we shared our stories and our lives?

I struggle because some of our staff meetings feel like sales rallies...whats our strategy...who's going to share first....we're building up our sales pitches.... It doesn't feel right. I think we do it because otherwise we'd have to relinquish control and trust God for the results (which may not look too good on our reports.) Just a thought.

Strider said...

Jesus sets us free. In Christ there is complete freedom. We know and use these phrases but they are a lie without complete transparancy. As long as we have something to hide we have something to lose and we are not free. In order to have no alternate agenda we must be completely transparant and that is scary. It takes a lot of faith but it is the place we all must go or our faith becomes just another religion we use trying to get control of our lives. We must let Him be in control, only then can we be truly free, only then can we be completely honest.

Espanola said...

I get what you're saying and am even on board with it in some sense. Believers, as a standard, need to remember God's sovereignty; that we don't need trickery, a foot in the door or compulsive strategy. It's called love in action. Talk about Jesus, and if they think you're bogus, everyone's entitled to an opinion. They had an opportunity and may in the future, but we've done our part.

Chris Irwin said...

Eugene Peterson in his book The Contemplative Pastor speaks of pastors as being subversive. He's not criticizing it, but stating what he believes should be the role of the minister. He speaks of most members of his congregation who view him as a nice, spriritual pastor--but who have no idea of his real, subversive purpose for their lives. That while they see him as relatively harmless, he doing his best to completely turn their world upside down as if they have been completely surprised by this new insurgency within. I am torn between the two poles: Not wanting to just see people as targets and yet at the same time subversively entering their lives for them to be changed...

stepchild said...

What about something between the two extremes (benign and subversive)? I would like to be known as someone who is out to improve and enrich everything around me. To me, this is fundamental to the holistic nature of my faith.

Furthermore, I think that such a reputation would actually put the people around me at ease. "I'm not trying to change you (into someone like me), I want what's best for you."

Thanks for sharing the Eugene Peterson idea. I'll have to check into that.

Chris Irwin said...

I agree--I'm always stimulated by your posts so keep it up. After 16 years in Ecuador we will be transitioning to Spain at the end of this year. So your posts really help me with insights. To be honest, we are quite nervous even though God has opened the door to this new life and ministry. Feel free to contact me directly at any time: irwinsinecuador(at)mac(dot)com

Keep strong,