Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What If We Stopped Trying to "Convert" People?

I heard someone the other day make a reference to trying to "win" someone to Christ.  I've heard that phrase a 1,000 times but for some reason it resonated differently with me this time.  What exactly does it mean to "win" someone?  I've also heard phrases like "defending" the faith.  Now in all fairness, the Bible does make a number of battle type references in regards to Christianity, but I got to thinking about how that mindset, if left unchecked, might have an effect on how people are treated?  Sometimes I feel like many Christians treat their faith like a ball game, a competition to out smart and out debate people into believing the same things we do.  Normally I believe the intentions are good, but unfortunately, I think the tactics can be overbearing.  Is Christ so small that we need to be able to out debate someone into believing in Him?  Is God so small that I must convince people of His existence?

How do we ever make progress if every religion believes their system is the best?  If we are unwilling to consider the beliefs of others because their system is clearly inferior to mine, whatever mine may be, then we will always have tension.

What if people no longer proselytized for their belief system?  What if instead of debating, every religion was put on display not by the logic of their beliefs, but by the actions of their followers?  Even atheists could participate in this one.  What if then people were to decide what they believed and how they wanted to live simply by what they saw lived out in others?  That might be interesting but isn't this pretty much what we have right now?  You see, Christ was not a master of debate, he was a master of love and nobody could argue love.  We can set up and compare all kinds of beliefs with each other, but I have decided that the only one I can personally and wholeheartedly sell out to is love.  I have a hard time saying that I'm a Christian anymore because of the actions that so many have taken under that name.  But when it comes to Jesus himself.  That guy I can follow, that guy I can buy into.  The true message of Jesus, the message of love, is one that is so powerful it doesn't need to be debated, or proclaimed, it simply needs to be displayed.  When that happens, it speaks for itself.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chapter 9 "The Big Decision"

Greetings All,

I have been asked by several people about the possibility of using What If God Is Like This? as material for a small group study. To assist with that, I have decided to come up with a series of discussion questions for each chapter. That way, if you decide to use the book in a small group setting you can either come up with your own questions or use some of these that I provide. Remember one of the purposes of this book is not just to provide possible answers for questions but to generate new ones as well. This is the journey not the destination :)

Chapter 9 Questions:

1. Should the decision to follow any religious system be a quick or easy decision?

2. How can people share their faith without pressuring people to accept the same beliefs they have.

3. When should impulsivity and religion go together? When should they not?

4. Would you ever encourage someone to delay a decision to embrace Christianity?

5. Have you ever felt emotions or fear were used to manipulate someone into becoming a Christian? If so what are your thoughts on this?

As always, these questions are here to spark small group discussion. Feel free to add your own or email me with more, especially as this is a shorter chapter.

Have fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lesson's from the Wilderness

The Superstition Mountains just east of Phoenix are famous for both their mystery and their rugged beauty. If you live in the Valley of the Sun, you know that every year the news reports of those who go missing in the desolate landscape, some of which set out on their journey's with dreams of finding the legendary Lost Dutchman's Mine, some don't survive, and some are never found. Once you get out there, you realize that the land once inhabited by outlaws, hermits, and Indians, is just as cruel as it is beautiful. Spring and Fall are the best times to hike this area as the summer time can be especially harsh. This week, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in the remote wilderness with a friend as we hiked around some of the canyons. It's interesting how quickly the true priorities of life begin to take focus every time I throw on the backpack and head out to some seldom traveled region. It doesn't take long for the pressures of mortgage payments and report deadlines to fade away in light of embracing mother nature and her power to awe you or destroy you. It's amazing how much stress melts away as you become aware of how so many of the things in life that occupy your mind are really trivial matters. It's funny, how a mistake out here can prove fatal, yet with so many fewer decisions to worry about, you feel so relaxed. I quickly am reminded of my true priorities in life as the first things I begin to miss are my family, followed closely by Mexican food. It is from the wilderness that I can feel my soul connect with my maker, without internet, texting, and IPODs to occupy my time. As I spend time with my maker and myself, I begin to discover the true nature of each.

I say all of this to encourage everyone to take sometime and enjoy the wilderness if they have an opportunity....... and if you do, just don't die........that tends to detract from the experience.