Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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 ‘Joe’—walks into a church 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 they 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? (Of course, most of the time we are being real people at church... but elsewhere in our Christian click? Are we real where we’re likely to stumble across both believer and non-believer in the same place?)

We forget all too easily sometimes what foreign a spiritual language 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 discretion or prudence.

Whatever, it’s a very godly virtue missing and it puts would-be investigators off the faith—a life-saving faith.

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

Faith should always 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.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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