Monday, March 15, 2010

Christians Are Hard to Tolerate; I Don't Know How Jesus Does It. --Bono

I'm reading a book for a class I'm taking on evangelism (a word that instills terrific fear in the hearts of many, I know) called They Like Jesus, but Not the Church. Yikes.

This book's purpose is to examine how Christians and the church come across to the "emerging generation," 18 to 35-year-olds. To put it bluntly, the book talks about all the stupid crap that Christians do to misrepresent Jesus...all the bullhorns and sandwich boards on the street corners telling people they are going to hell, the bumper stickers that say "Abortion is Murder!" and the T-shirts that say homosexuality is a sin. No wonder people think the church is negative and judgmental, homophobic, oppressive, and controlling. No wonder people don't want to be a part of a church, of a community, that really does stand up for the poor and oppressed, that is mobilized to serve others, that follows a God who lavishes us with his gifts of grace and mercy and whose greatest commandment is to love one another.

Every ten minutes or so as I read this book, some sort of sigh or "ugh" escapes from my lips; this book churns my stomach with conviction as I read it, because I know I am so often a stupid, judgmental, selfish, insensitive Christian too. I pray to God that I will not be the reason that someone doesn't like the church, that I would not get in the way of someone seeing the love, grace, and truth of Jesus.

Here's what I want to say to those of you who are open to the teachings of Jesus but do not like the church:

Jesus is real. Maybe you know this. Maybe you don't. I wish I could make Jesus real to you. I wish I could put a sense of longing in your heart, a desperation in your eyes for him. Keep seeking.
I know Jesus. I love Jesus. But I am fantastically inept at reflecting who he is to you, and to the world. I am sorry for this, and I hope you'll forgive my forever shortcomings. I hope that my imperfect life won't hinder you from knowing his power and perfection. And I hope that the collective church has not disenchanted your perception of who Christ is.

Christians have disappointed you. Shown you hostility. Spoken to you sanctimoniously. Demonstrated hypocricy. Embodied greed. Turned a blind eye. Communicated ignorantly. And maybe worst of all...expressed their faith inauthentically.

But Jesus will do none of those things. Ever.

Maybe you're going to church...and that's good. You're showing up into the kind of places where you and God might meet. Maybe you will meet Jesus. Maybe you won't. Maybe you already have but haven't acknowledged it for some reason...I don't know.

I pray every day for you, and I hope you don't think that sounds condescending. I want you to understand that I believe in Jesus enough to care about your eternity...and your life. And as much as my heart breaks for you to know him, his heart breaks for you so much more.

I love you. Jesus loves you, too.


Brandon and Katie said...

I love your heart Lisa.

Michal said...

Love this post Bee... great insights!!

Judgementalism is something I struggle with and need to work on continuously!

At the same time, it comes from both ends of the spectrum. I love this article by this 'atheist':

I think it is key for people from whatever kind of worldview to continuously be open and have a learning attitude to those with a completely different worldview... whether its atheists, Muslims, Christians, Communists, etc.

A.J. said...

Great thoughts, I could not have summed it up better. Will have to check that book out, sounds like a good (albeit frustrating) read.