Several recent articles in Dan Kimball‘s Vintage Faith blog have been driving a discussion in the comments portion about Christians and their relationship with those outside their belief system. Three articles in particular:
- True Story – What would you do?
- What I said to the fellow with the T-Shirt
- The Longer We Are Christians
The articles are interesting but I am more interested in the comments. Especially those in the second and third articles. In the second article Dan challenges those who read his blog to become more involved with people outside their faith on the pretense that only then will others outside the faith be able to “see Jesus.” In the third article, Dan postulates that the longer an individual is a Christian the less involved with people outside the Christian faith s/he becomes.
The comments reveal, in my opinion, the core essence of why Christians are viewed as such a pretentious and irritating lot. I would even go so far as to say that it is at the core of why Christians are such a pretentious and irritating lot. The primary reason for most Christians to socialize with, make friends with or even interact with non-Christians is so that the non-Christians will become a Christian. The Evangelical Agenda. Hang around an evangelical church long enough and it becomes apparent that the Evangelical Agenda is the overriding motivation for virtually everything the church does.
There were several large scale natural disasters last year both here in the States and around the world. It struck me that the church’s motivation for finding ways to assist the disaster stricken areas had less to do with the fact that people were devastated and in terrible need but rather because rendering aid provided the opportunity to ‘share’ Christianity. Somehow, it seems that Christians have come to the conclusion that their god needs them to tell others, forcibly if necessary, about their god.
As I see it, if God is as described in the Bible, whatever His use for me might be, He does not need any thing from me. God does not need me to tell anyone anything. God does not need me to do anything. As I look back on my life I can see where He has done a lot for me, or so my world view would ascribe it. If God is so small that He needs man to deliver His message, that is hardly a god at all.
The Evangelical Agenda says that I must constantly be looking for an opportunity to talk about my beliefs and my faith with others. The Evangelical Agenda says that I should be quick to the side of anyone who is suffering because in their moment of weakness they might be open to accepting my faith. The Evangelical Agenda says that the overriding motivation for everything I do in this life is to win another soul to heaven and save them from hell.
Some of the friendships I enjoy most are with people who adamantly and even violently disagree with my faith. Some of the conversations I enjoy most have as their topic issues that are, for me, governed by my belief in Christianity. I believe that we can have those conversations because the relationship is built on tolerance and respect. Tolerance* of beliefs that differ from my own and respect for that individual’s intellect and choices. I am certain that I am wiser for having had close personal friendships with people who believe very differently from me. Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, Agnostics, Theists. I have or have had friends who held deeply to all of these belief systems (haven’t had any friends yet who held all of them at the same time).
Each of us makes our own decisions as to what we believe or do not believe. Setting the course of one’s life so as to maximize the opportunity to impose your beliefs on others or to challenge the beliefs of others is arrogant. If God has granted each the free will to choose what they will believe, who is any man to think the he may decide for others. And even if one’s purpose is to persuade others of the rightness of any one belief, that persuasion will most likely begin from a position of honesty, respect and love. Not from a position of deceit, deception and manipulation that is the Evangelical Agenda.
[posted with ecto]