I’ve really enjoyed some of the conversations that I’ve had recently. God has taught me alot through a few friends. Some of these conversation have spilled over into the blogosphere, others have been inspired by blog posts, and others have had nothing at all to do with blogging, believe it or not. I can’t mention everyone by name here, since some of the converstaions were private, but I’d like to point out a few public conversations.
I’ve linked to Dan at “hollowagain” before, especially his comics. I’m excited about some of the interaction that Dan has had with unbelievers due to his comics. This week, Dan published several blog posts that are worthy of mention. In his post “if there is no fruit does the tree exist?” Dan discusses the dangers of a hypocritical lifestyle in relationship to evangelism. He says:
but then i thought some more about it. what is the christian message? basically just that through the death of jesus peoples hearts can be changed. dead hearts can become alive hearts. if this is the message then i think that the argument that christians are hypocrites is extremely relevant to the discussion. christians are supposed to be the ones with the living hearts, the good hearts that god changed and god is working inside of. if people claim to have one of those kinds of hearts and then act like jerks one might wonder if that persons heart is really any different. if the majority of people you run into who call themselves christians are the same way (jerks) then you might start wondering if this whole changing peoples hearts thing is even real at all.
i guess this all might mean that sharing the gospel is more than just telling people some story. if a hypocritical lifestyle shows that jesus might not be real than an honest lifestyle might show that jesus is real. maybe i shouldnt get mad at lost people anymore and i should start trying to be less of a jerk and a hypocrite.
Dan follows this post with another one called “a perfect failure” where he concludes that the opposite of hypocrisy is not perfection but honesty and authenticity:
it seems like the gospel is all about how we arent perfect and jesus is and how his perfection and love makes it so we can have a relationship with him. maybe it would be better if i started just being more honest with people about who i am and stopped trying to hide my screwed up self by judging and condemning other people for being gay or liberal or prochoice or whatever else makes me feel like im better than them.
Another friend, Drew, from “a beautiful collision“, has been discussing the meeting of the church and disagreeing with the church. In his post “When we disagree” he honestly struggles with questions about staying with a group of believers with whom he disagrees. He says:
I’ve wondered for some time if these disagreements are things that should send me looking for a different group to meet with. Right now, I don’t think so. It seems to me that what Christ desires most from His Church is mutual edification, Kingdom activity, and unity. I can’t see myself leaving and then saying that I have unity with those believers. Yet, I feel as though many of that group would look at me as dishonest/deceptive for staying when we don’t agree about so many things (This applies at the denominational level as well).
I agree with Drew. Unity among believers is extremely important, and it must be built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, not our own particular beliefs about Jesus.
While these conversations may seem separate, they are actually similar. When the church gathers together, and when we strive to build up one another toward maturity, we will not be perfect – none of us. Therefore, we will make mistakes, and we will disagree. If we expect other people to be perfect, then we will be disappointed. If we pretend that we are perfect, then we are hypocrites. If we come together expecting God to work through other believers, even when we disagree with them on certain points, then we will be amazed at what God does. We will find that God can use those with whom we disagree and those who are not perfect to mature us in Christ Jesus.
Perhaps the meeting will not go exactly as we planned, but since we’re not perfect, why do we think our plan is right? Perhaps the people will not say exactly what we would have said, but since we’re not perfect, why do we think that what we would say would be right? We may find that God is present and active in the midst of our imperfection and while maintaining our unity in spire of differences. We may find that God truly is able to use jars of clay.
This kind of meeting takes faith. It takes the faith to trust God to work in spite of us. I’ve been encouraged this week by listening to friends who are not perfect, who do not always say things the way that I would say them, and with whom I do not always agree. But, then, I hope that they have learned from me as well, in spite of the fact that I am not perfect, I do not always say things the way they would say them, and they do not always agree with me.