I would like to recommend this post by Adam Felber, a radio personality that I have always liked and just recently learned had a blog of his own. It has 112 replies and I haven't read those yet, but the post was a real thought-jerker.
Everyone's relationship with Jesus should be important to Christians. Even those that don't claim he is their lord and savior. It's called "being an ambassador for Christ," to use the language of the born-again. If the behavior of Christians is causing non-
Christians to be disgusted with the guy that seems to have led them into that behavior, they should rethink their motivations. Because, chances are, disgusting behavior was not commanded by the God of Love. Chances are, disgusting behavior was a result of human interpretation of the Bible. Guess what, guys, because of the Fall, human interpretation has the chance of being flawed. THINK IT THROUGH AGAIN.
Oh, those pesky consequences inherited from Adam and Eve.
As I have been thinking about Adam's post, I have thought about my own relationship with Jesus. The main thing that strikes me (maybe because I am actually doing a little pondering of the New Year) is just how much I have talked about my relationship this past year. I have talked more about Jesus this past year than I ever have in my life, both on this blog and in actual conversations with people. I have talked about Jesus and what he has taught me, I have talked about Jesus and how much I respect him, to the point that I try to do what he tells me, I talk about God as I view him through the lens of my Christian upbringing and the lens of truths that my heart tells me. I talk about Jesus more than I did when my faith was vehement as a teenager. At least, I talk about him more with strangers and people that do not know Jesus.
I have never been comfortable with the human interpretation that we should convert the masses. God gave us free will and I believe that manipulating others into conversion, especially in their times of emtional weakness, is actually taking away their free will, which is contermanding God's desire. I do believe in education and most people learn by watching others demonstrate knowledge. Think about it: we don't learn to tie our shoes because someone explained to us in words that first you make a loop with the string in your right hand, then you wrap the other string around the base of the loop and pull that second string through to make a second loop. We watched others demonstrate. Ocassionally, someone else would wrap their arms around us from behind and guide our hands through the process. The same is true about spiritual education. I can't tell someone else how to find happiness by loving Jesus. All I can do is relate my own experiences honestly, without any attempt to force an outcome (telling the stories with the intent to convert would sully the truth of the story and it would not resonate). Since they are offered up without any strings attached (usually, I've written for my own sense of reflection or for pure entertainment value), I hope that God can use my stories and people's reactions to them as they are needed. They'll be little bits of stone contributing to the concrete of someone else's foundation. An aggregate faith. Attempts to manipulate conversion are attempts to build someone else's foundation for them out of big blocks of ourselves. Fast and dramatic. Big blocks of ourselves are like blocks of sandstone of even the foam that setbuilders build facades fro movies and plays with(remember the Fall). Since God wasn't really offered control of the building, it is flawed and will ultimately crumble under pressure.
Wow, that's a lot of metaphors.
Still, although thus endeth the lesson, I am a filled witha sense of contentment that I have been given the opportunity and felt a fluency in talking about my relationship with Jesus. He is a good friend and someone I admire and it's a little like introducing good friends of mine that have never met each other. I know that there is a chance that they won't get along or that they just don't see anything special in each other. But, they'll each have met the other so that when I talk about them in the future, they'll have better sense of what I'm talking about and the complexity of the relationship. This will make my relationship with both individuals more intimate and that's absolutely necessary for my happiness, if nothing else.
in the garden - Thank you for your kindness in response to our sad news yesterday! It meant so much to hear such encouraging and gentle words, certainly helping in the hea...