Friday, May 18, 2007

fear


As mentioned in the recent travel reports, the entire "God For People Who Hate Church" conference in Salem, MA could easily had been called "How To Love People Different From You".

But that would have been real gay-sounding. And not gay as in boys loving each other. Just gay as in gay. And I probably wouldn't have wanted to attend anything with the words "how to love". Those words sound insulting, like maybe I don't know how to love people.

And truthfully, I really DON'T know how to love people different from me.

But anyway, on The Why Man's recent post, he poses one possibility of our lack of love for people different from us (and "us", as in "followers of Jesus"): fear of possibly compromising the gospel.

Fear? Compromising?

How can you compromise the gospel by learning, listening to, and befriending someone very different from you?

We (as in "Jesus followers") fear that mingling with non-Jesus followers might contaminate us somehow, I guess.

How goofy. What are we really afraid of? Having our beliefs challenged and questioned? Is that why we huddle ourselves in our churches because we fear being questioned somehow?

Any thoughts on this or loving people different from you?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could you explain what you mean when you say..."people who are different from you."

miller said...

i don't know b, i probably struggle as much with loving people who are like me as i do with loving people who are different from me...

i think loving people is just pretty damned hard all the way 'round.

Anonymous said...

Man,

I think there are too many things going too many directions to just offer my thoughts on all of it. I will choose just a couple...

I think I know what you are driving at in your overall scheme here, but your language in the details of any given sentence bring up issues for me that I don't think you are driving at. So bear with me if this seems off base...

But, as for fear of compromise...

I figure that is a real fear for some church people, but not many. Some church people's faith is all about fear. My grandpa would defintely be in that category. He actually thinks he will go to hell when he dies, but he also is dead sure he "has the truth" that you must accept in order for you to avoid the same fate. It is absa-f-ing-lutely rediculous, I know, but he really operates out of that kind of fear.

On the other hand, I think far far far more church people are hype and comfort driven. They don't typically study their Bibles, and certainly not with great depth. No exegesis or any of that. Instead, they read the latest Christian best seller and attend a retreat or 40 day seminar where they pick up new language and buzzwords. These things are trendy. But they are hype and comfort driven.

The bright side is that most of this stuff is not particularly harmful. It tends to be neighbor loving in nature. Not a lot of condemnation etc. However, it also is not very challenging of either faith, lifestyle, or thought. And it has a lulling effect of cacooning us in "comfort zones" etc. Church people begin to live in a bubble of comfort and hype.

Plus, the Republican Party with its lock on protestants in the last 20-25 years gives church people the teeth for condemnation, if there is any. Political conservatives tend to champion self sufficiency, taking responsiblity for your actions and finances etc. Not all bad, but short on compassion and long on self righteousness.

Marry these mentalities up and you get the modern american protestant church. And I think most of what you and I both hate about the church can be traced to that marriage. And I think it is not as well thought out by the church people who champion these things as they would like us to believe. I think they basically got to this place by driving in mental cruise control...

Most folks are not particularly hateful of poor people. Especially when you get them one on one in a hypothetical conversation. If you called up Joe Church-goer on phone and said you have a need to buy a poor family a box of food for $25, will you help? As often as not, Joe will fork up some cash. (I am living proof of this)

But if you talk to Joe Church-goer down at the local breakfast cafe on a Saturday morning in front of all his buddies about how Democrats just want to take money and give it to poor people and waste it, he is likely to turn red in the face and join you in a rant!

I don't think Joe has really thought through his position much. I think he was just going with the flow... I think sacrificial living is deeply unsettling and uncomfortable, and if he can mentally disengage his Bible thinking just enough to allow his "moral majority" mindset to take up the slack, then he can dodge the bullet on self sacrifice all the while clinging to self righteousness and never see it that way.

Just my thought on it.

Agent X

Agent B said...

Anon -

The definition is as it states: how to love people...different from YOU.

example: me. I am a male, white, married, jesus follower, born in the middle class, and so on.

How can I love a homosexual athiest? A wiccan solitary practitioner? A poor elderly black man who expects me to be a biggit?

And what is love? talking behind someone's back? Minding my own business?

Jesus states that it's easy to love people who love us back. So we should love people who hate us.

Just questions. I hope that helps give you a definition.

When I first moved to this street, it was hard for me to not think sarcastic comments about my neighbors The Sanfords. They were poor, junky, loud, yelling, etc. They are very different from me. But the CEO has changed me somehow and somehow or another we are close friends, even through our vast differences.

Agent B said...

Miller -

Only you (and the CEO) know your heart.

But I'd bet you'd find it real easy to love a person who thinks and acts just like you.

Agent B said...

X -

I don't know what's confusing about this report. Tell me what bothers you and I will try to re-explain it.

Basically -

Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering hosted this conference I attended. He has 3 or 4 blogs.I linked 3 of them in the side bar: the why man, the why man II, and the gathering.

And the basic gist of the whole weekend revolved around discussing how to be Jesus and love people who are not like "us" (ie: particularly non-christians such as witches, athiests, and satanists. But these discussions could be applied to anyone not like us, or better yet, me: poor people, obese people, religious people, etc).

One key factor in "how" to love others that was discussed is listening. Historically, Christians are terrible listeners. Especially when it comes to people not like them.

Christians want to control every conversation with non-christians. They want to force Jesus into the conversation or relationship immediately. Or they want nothing to do with the conversation or relationship. All or none.

In most cases, for years I have believed (and most seem to agree in Salem) that LISTENING instead of talking is a better way to be Jesus to non-believers.

If we pay attention to others, and let out life demonstrate christ as we live it out, the non-believer will pay attention and have respect for us REGARDLESS if they ever choose christ for themselves.

I hope that's a little clearer.

Anonymous said...

B,

Did my comment seem off base? I said I thought I knew what you were driving at. If my comment seemed off base, then apparently I did not. If it seemed to address your post, then I did. What do you think?

X

Agent B said...

Off base? - maybe.

Not in an "I'm offended" kind of way.

I think you went a completely different direction. But good comments anyway.

Tangerinetinselbreeze said...

No disrespect intended, but it sounds to me like it is a formula you seek. I don't think you can generalize how to "love" others that are different from yourself with one approach. There is the common denominator of love- but everyone needs to be seen and heard in their own language and culture. Not just a black culture, mexican culture, filipino culture, wiccan culture, homeless culture, etc, but a spiritual climate created by the presence of God that dwells with you. Maybe I am missing it too. I just believe that the more time you spend walking with God, the more He will whisper how to approach each person. Each person is significant to Him. It is just whether or not average Joe wants to lay down the schedule to pursue relationaship with the King long enough to hear the light of truth for the ones they are called to love.

Agent B said...

Tang -

I don't think I am seeking a formula. And no disrespect taken. Thanks for writing.

But I'm convinced that being a "listener" more than a talker/answer man is essential.

Tangerinetinselbreeze said...

I can definitely "hear" that. Personally, I have found it a rare person to allow my heart to be expressed when I was in need of sharing. At other times I have had to wrestle my mouth to stay closed and just "be there."
And hey, regarding above post, my fav's: Fat Tire, Tilburg's, Bass, Newcastle, Guinness- met the husband over Black and tan on tap...near and dear to my heart.

Agent B said...

Last night we tried a new one from the makers of Fat Tire: "Mothership Wit" - an all organic wheat beer with hints of citrus/orange peel, etc. Good stuff.

And I have yet to try a real black-n-tan. Looking forward to that one some day.