A conversation yesterday had as it's challenging moment the expressed view that Christian were 'weird'! Now of course I had to ask what they meant by this and in doing so the float bobbed and the person I was talking with struck - I had Ben hooked and was about to be played. Game on!
Lifting the tip of their metaphorical rod they began the fight:
'Well, just look at the way you accept everything without question and have the idea that everything the world likes is wrong. All you go on about is sin and hell and stuff. Don't you think that makes you weird?'
'Where do you get that idea from?' I asked, trying to gauge the potentially unfolding battle, so they continued,
'One of the people I know says that no one can please god and that I'm going to hell because I don't go to church or read my bible. That tell me god will judge me for everything I do and that unless I accept him I'm his enemy and will be punished. When I pointed out the things they do they told me god had forgiven then and now whatever they did was OK because of Jesus.'
'Hmmm,' said I viewing some stuff I'd recognise as Christian and wondering where to start to unpack this. 'Do I know this person?' So they told me their name and my response was simply:
'Ah I see the problem, it's not Christians who are weird, it's the person you're talking to that is!' And I proceeded to explain that within the many expression of Christian faith there were many weird people but that didn't make Christianity 'weird' or render all Christian 'weird' either. After all, look at the weird people around us, do they make society weird because if their presence or serve to show us what, or who, isn't weird?
So I explained a condensed theology of God, separation, atonement through the cross, reconciliation and living in that new reality. We talked of those who claimed forgiveness and lived as before, taking Christ to the cross on a regular basis, rather than as new creations: The world of hypocrisy where your sins condemn and mine are forgiven.
'That makes sense,' they said, 'I can see what you're saying but don't quite understand it all. Is it just about Jesus then, him dying and coming back?' My response, 'Yep, pretty much - you've got the shape, you just need to adjust your focus to find the detail. And as for the weird bit.' I added as a postscript, 'It's not Christianity or Christians that are weird! it's the person you've been talked at by that's weird - don't judge the church or Christianity or Christ by them. They're their to make the rest of us look normal!'
And with that the hook was gone and I was free and we shook hands and parted friends even though we weren't (yet) brothers - but tomorrow is another day.
I love this ministry stuff - always a challenge, a blessing and wonderful people to engage with, even though some of them are weird!