Thursday, April 16, 2015

Are you IN or OUT?

This is perhaps one of the most talked about questions in all of Christianity.

Throughout the history of humanity, humans have been preoccupied with hierarchy. We've wanted to establish who we are or who we aren't based on comparison. Sometimes this may have been considered a necessary development, and at other times it had some of the most devastating consequences to human life that have ever been recorded (you've heard of genocide, right?).

I wonder if this is question that we even need to be asking.

I have three kids, and I can tell you firsthand that each one of them is unique, special and crazy in their own way. And they all are driven by the question of who they are to me (or more specifically their mom...she's #1 in our house by far!!). There are times when they use comparison to see which of them is "better" in my eyes. From a parent's perspective, it's a silly exercise because they are all important to me. But from their perspective it is seemingly the most important question they can have answered.

I wonder if this might be what God feels or thinks when His kids try to figure out which is the "best" in His eyes?

It's got me thinking...what if I spent less time trying to figure this out and more time loving people the way Jesus did. Maybe it starts with things like this:

1. Listening first. I can't tell you how many times I've made the mistake of talking too much. I've  said something without thinking, betrayed a friend's confidence and hurt those I love with my words. I know it's tough to be silent when we are excited about a particular subject...and nothing excites me more than talking about Jesus! But what I've learned is that by demonstrating the willingness to listen, I not only earn the right to be heard, but I've also begun introducing people to Jesus without a single word. Our world is full of noise and distraction. Give the gift of undivided attention through listening and see what sort of conversations you get invited into as a result.

2. Being open minded. I'm a passionate sports fan. I can argue for days how my team of choice is better than your team of choice. The problem is when I let this type of passion taint the way I share my faith. Please don't misunderstand me. I believe that Jesus offers the ONLY version of life of this planet (and beyond) that is worth living. But I also know that sometimes my passion and zeal can be forceful and coercive instead of inviting and challenging (in the positive sense).

Try something different in the conversations you find yourself in. Be open willing to hear different perspectives. If you believe like I do that Jesus offers the best version of life, then please remember that all arguments that have ever been constructed have already been won (remember the words of Jesus on the cross - "it is finished").

3. Praying with hopefulness. There is a lot of differing conversation in the church word about different strategies to engage and connect with people. Two of the most popular buzz words in these conversation are the words attractional and missional. An attractional strategy focuses on putting the best foot forward so that people on the "outside" looking in would be attracted to what is going on. A missional strategy focuses on meeting people where they are at (meeting needs and having conversations). The conversation usually unfolds as to which strategy is the better one to pursue. Regardless of your personal opinion related to this conversation, the truth is that unless hope permeates how you act, think and pray all your activity is meaningless. Imagine with me what the world could look like if more people discovered hope in the ordinary and plain things that life sometimes offers.

Being in or out really isn't something I want to focus on anymore. I want to love people like Jesus did. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think if I can do that well the rest will take care of itself. What do you think?