Friday, August 20, 2010

Being Relatable

I have made many mistakes as a young Christian.  I've been zealous for Christ without any of the wisdom that comes from years of walking with the Spirit.  I've tried to tell people that they needed to belong to my church in order to be saved (a mistake I will never make again, although I still retain that some churches are not showing people the right way according to what I see in the Bible).  I've given advice to people without having walked in their shoes (or tried to walk in their shoes).  I've made snap judgements about people's faith based on outward appearances.  The list goes on.

As I've gotten older, I've gotten wise enough to know that I am not wise, and I've settled into a comfortable complacency.  I revel in being relatable; after all, I was invited to church randomly on the street four times (to sister branches of the same church as it turned out), but the only time I actually came was when they didn't mention "church" in the first encounter.  I saw that person as a friend and wanted to go to church with her, not as a recruiter that was trying to get me to join her sect.

After I got baptized, I was so excited by what I was learning, what God was doing in my life, I couldn't believe everyone around me wasn't interested in the same thing.  I got quite a few cold shocks from people I was sure would be open to the message (and a few surprises from people I was sure never would be).  In the end I've grown comfortable.  I know that God saves, that he opens people's hearts, that he is moved by my prayers, and that no amount of persuading on my part is going to convince people as to what they need.  I live out this mantra in my daily life as I talk about muslim values with my muslim friends, latest trends with my worldly friends, motherhood with my mom friends:

1 Corinthians 9:

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

I somehow think that simply by being relatable people are going to see that being a Christian is attainable, that you can be an upright person and still be "cool."  I don't think that idea is completely off-base, but if I examine closely, I've won no one for Christ that way.  Come, let us walk on this road together and talk about light subjects, and here at the parting of the roads I will continue on to heaven where I will meet my Lord, and you --

The truth is, there is no one way to win people to God, just as there is no one type of faith.  I know a young woman who was living in the spiritual gutters of NY, who became a Christian just because some newly-converted (unwise) zealot said she had better change her ways or she would go to hell.  I also know others who became a Christian just by seeing the gentleness and faith of their friends.  

I Corinthians 1:

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
 18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written: 

   "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

 20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

 26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."[d]

To be honest (to myself, as well as to you), I was a fool when I was called.  Any wisdom, any relatability, and coolness, any gentleness of tongue and spirit, any beauty ... I got with the help of the Spirit.  How can I then think that I can win people for Christ by displaying these virtues and clamming up on their source?

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