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Monday, May 2, 2011

How Does ‘the Outsider’ See Me?

“Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”

~Colossians 4:5-6 (NRSV).

A stranger to church — your everyday John Doe — walks in and they’re obviously lost... they just want to find their way to wherever. What sort of response would your average church greeter give them?

Would John Doe feel comfortable walking through that foreign door?

Would it be that much different to us walking into a mosque or a Sikh temple?

Likewise for our outsider, they will not feel comfortable, and so why do we in our ‘Christian’ pretence perpetuate the discomfort instead of just being real people?

This is a test, fundamentally, of 1) our authenticity, and 2) our interest in other people.

We forget all too easily sometimes what foreign spiritual jargon we speak, and how strange our passions for worship and love of God are to the innocent, unsuspecting outsider.

We really can come across as some alien life form to average, worldly people. Sometimes this might be necessary, especially where ethics and moral intuition are concerned, but most of the time it’s unnecessary.

The ‘Harvest’ Was Never About Putting People Off

It was never God’s will that we estrange the world, and especially the pensive seeker, because or our ‘craziness,’ which is possibly just the ardency of our passion without a suitable measure of wise, balanced restraint; call it a lack of discretion or prudence.

Do we hear ourselves? Do we hear how we sound?

If this self-sense is missing it puts would-be investigators off the faith — a life-saving faith.

If the world will trust us because we speak the truth in love, reliably, it must surely come closer to knowing God.

Faith should make innovative sense to the outsider; they must see in us, and through us, blessing that is alluring to them.

Christian mumbo-jumbo, I’m sure at times, is the enemy’s tool for further disenfranchising the unbelieving world, as they say, “There go those weirdo Christians again!”

Sure, we’re to be in-the-world and not of-the-world, but truth speaks a million languages at once. God is truth, and in this is great power, and when we abide to truth — any truth — it’s alluring, especially to the outsider.

This is our key then; to remain firmly embedded in truth, seasoning it with the authenticity of love — the desire to be second to one other person; the one in our midst.

That is behaviour that exudes this sentiment: “Help me understand the way you see the world. I hope you feel through me — in Christ — what the love of unconditional acceptance is.”

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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