Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why People Don't Come to Christ

I try to make provocative titles to get more traffic.  A tad cheesy, but there's a lot of good stuff on this blog and if I don't do it, nobody will know.  To see part II, click on the blog title above.

This question has been bouncing around my  head.  The famous statement by Gandhi, "I would become a Christian if it weren't for the Christians" or something like that is often used, I suppose to either justify somebody or to try to inflict even more guilt on Christians, that it is all our fault that the whole world is not evangelized.

By the way, I resist the pressure to think that anything that came out of Gandhi's mouth must be true.  He deserves respect, but not reverence.  He was a flawed human being and very much a product of his culture.  For example, there's a quote in my Franklin-Covey planner for today, "To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer."  I would refer someone to Revelation 5.

At first I thought I would approach this with a neat three-point approach, but that is obviously too simplistic.  My original points were pain, pride, and honesty.  Now I would add apathy and ignorance to that, or a combination.

1.  Pain.  This is the one we most overlook.  There are simply millions of people who have been abused--in any number of ways--by some figure they associate with God,Christ, or his body the church.  Sometimes this abuse is real and devastating; sometimes the "abuse" is just a slight or a human mistake.  To the person perceiving it, it doesn't matter, although in the case of some slights the real reason bleeds over into pride more than honest pain. 

This reason is also responsible for more people leaving than the faith as well as some never coming to it.  I know lots of people who were in fundamentalist groups and who feel they were greatly mistreated simply by the inconsistencies or "legalism" (these same people are legalistic in their own ways, they just don't recognize it.  Legalism is within us as well as within a system or church.)  Some of those people don't recognize that they participated in their own oppression; however, that does not excuse the oppressors.  As I have gotten older I have become more sensitive to both the "oppressed" (I use that term loosely) and the "oppressors," many of whom thought they were doing a good thing or were oppressed themselves. 

A professor I had in grad school (one of those who smoked in class back in the 70s!) once said that we cannot feel the level of another's pain.  I think he is right.  I have been greatly mistreated by people, even people close to me, and I choose not to let it control me.  However, I have to admit that it may do so at a subconscious level I don't know about.  I am very conscious of how men in the church treat women.  Few treat us as equals, spiritually, intellectually, in terms of gifts, or otherwise.  I choose not to make it a guiding principle in my life to be angry about this, but I realize now how much my anger came out in my first novel.  Virginia Woolf said we should not write from a position of anger (in A Room of Her Own), but it is hard to see it until much later. 

So, what is the answer?  Just say, "Well, some people won't come to Christ because of pain, so let's forget them?"  No, obviously not.  The key is what I'd like to call "agenda-free relationship."  More about that later, and more about this subject later.  I have to run to the bank!

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