I have had an unusual amount of conversations about spiritual things, one-on-one, with non-Christians/new Christians lately. Friends, coworkers, and guys in the prison ministry that I get to be a part of, we’ve been chatting. Mostly it’s questions about faith or what have you. Sometimes I can answer, many times I can’t, but I try to do my best. What has surprised me the most is not a lack of faith or a hostility towards it, but general misconceptions about it.
One guy, whose only experience with church was the little basement gathering where we meet on Sundays, couldn’t believe that what we do together was church. He was so disenfranchised by what he had only heard about church, that he never even bothered to walk into one.
A friend was so convinced that he was hated by Christians for the things that he was into (metal music, horror movies, tattoos), that he began to hate them right back. Years of resentment built up to an idea of being hated rather than an actual hatred.
Still another is a man of faith who is struggling with sin. He keeps trying to do what he perceives as right, and every time he stumbles, he feels like God has turned his back on him. Not being able to maintain what the “good people” maintain, he is convinced that he has failed a God that is nothing but disappointed in him. In a constant state of sorrow and depression from his failures, callouses are building around his heart.
The enemy (yeah, that guy) is real. Satan has twisted Jesus’ message of love and grace into such a knot that it looks like a complete mess to a lot of people. Who are the hands that tighten the knot? We are, the so-called good Christians. Ridiculous Christians is more like it. We hide our trials, we pretend. We hold the world up to a standard that we can’t even keep, we look down and point fingers. Our buildings feel like gatherings of perfect people that have it all figured out.
Yeah yeah yeah, “those churches” and “those people” suck right? Hold on a second, I am challenged to look right into the mirror. It’s not them that I can change, it’s me. It’s not those churches, it’s mine. It’s not in the ether, it’s right here with me, in my world. And it’s right there in yours too.
Jesus reaches out to the hurting, sinful, and broken, so I must too. Jesus doesn’t see disappointments, he sees opportunities for relationship and salvation, so I must too. No one has ever turned to God with a sincere heart (or even half-way sincere) and been turned away, so who am I to turn a suspicious someone away.
Jesus touched the lepers wounds, cried with the mourning, loved on the despicable, healed the naked and stinking, and forgave the murderous. I am those people and I am to do the same as my Savior does for people like me.
What knots do you see? How are you helping to untangle them?