(This was a graphic from a recent series I helped teach at church)
One of the more significant Christian values is humility, something we’re not typically known for. For Christians, our identity completely rests on Jesus; his love for us, his forgiveness of our sin, his death and resurrection, and his call to be his follower. Our identity and worth do not come from our accomplishments, but from our acknowledgment of our need for a savior. In this way, because we embrace the grace of God for all people through Jesus, Christians “boast” in their imperfections, because it is through humility that we can understand Gods love and begin to love others the way God loves us.
With this in mind I thought it would be a good exercise for me to begin reflecting on areas of my life where I am weak, and in so doing begin to understand more fully my need for grace.
Confession # 1
Almost all of my friends are Christians.
The Jesus way means to enter into the lives of other people and their experiences. Just as Christ “incarnated” into human form and entered into our experiences, Christians are challenged to be present in the pain, joy, lament, and triumphs of our neighbors and of one another. Unfortunately the human tendency is to exclusively hang out with people just like ourselves. If you look at most Christian churches you will see that Christians have a history of cutting themselves off from the world and creating enclaves away from culture. We create “Bibble-bubbles or Holy-huddles” to protect ourselves from the “pagan” culture. This runs completely counter to the way of life Jesus presented both by his example and teaching. Jesus followers are called to be “salt and light” in the world, serving it, caring for it, being present in it, and loving it without an agenda. More often than not, Christians become just like the world by creating an “us and them” mentality instead of becoming sacrificial servants to society.
Over the past few months I preached and taught on, wrote about, and discussed this concept a dozens of times. Even though I’ve consitently beat the drum of loving other people who are different than us and being present in the lives of the people in our culture, I must confess that I haven’t done a very good job of this myself.
I work for a church and I go to seminary, so the most convenient relationships I tend to develop are with Christians. However, this is not an excuse for me to become insular and introverted in my orientation. Over the years, even though I’ve preached against it, I’ve mostly gotten to know people are are just like me. In fact, I only know a few people who are not a part of the Christian community and that saddens me. I’m convinced I’m missing out. Jesus called me to love the other and for me to love other people I have to know them.
My confession for this blog tonight is that, even though I have preached on the value of loving those who are different than you and I believe in this teaching, I haven’t tried nearly hard enough to know and befriend people who aren’t like me.
What if we weren’t so concerned with building up our safe and secure bubbles? What if we instead loved our neighbors the way Jesus did – eating with them, talking with them, listening to them, and being present with them?