I had a long conversation with a woman on my way home from Boston. I never tell people I’m a minister when I first meet them because they immediately stereotype me, and its shuts down any honest conversation.
We had a really nice and thoughtful conversation as a result about what is happening in our world and just life itself. When I told her that I was a minister she was surprised. She explained that she had grown up in an atheist family and that religion did not play any role in her life. She was surprised that I was a reasonably normal guy who cared about a lot of the things that were important to her. It puzzled her that I like to question things and I am open to new ideas. She said if I had told her that I was a minister at the beginning she would never have been so honest with me about her life, or shared her opinions with me.
I am convinced that most people who reject Christianity don’t have a problem with Jesus. What they have a problem with is all of the extras we have stacked on top of him. Extras like rules, politics, doctrines, beliefs, and other things that we pile on him. Many people outside the church think that being a Christian means that we have to stop thinking, that questions aren’t allowed, that doubts are forbidden. They think that becoming a Christian means shutting down our minds and becoming more exclusive and judgmental. They usually don’t want to debate why God allows so many bad things to happen in the world.
God isn’t the problem. They question why Christians don’t do more themselves to overcome human suffering, and why so much of what we do adds to it. It makes me sad to think that a lot of people simply never see the beauty of Jesus because he has been so disfigured by the ugliness of religious people.
The church would be a much more attractive place if it looked more like Jesus and less like a political party. It would also be much more attractive if the church was a place people could ask questions without being punished for their honesty.
I’m going to talk about these things when I preach a message on doubt this weekend. What if doubt is not an indication of an absence of faith, but is actually a sign of great faith? The message for the weekend is When Doubt Makes Faith Difficult.
See You Sunday,
P.S. The woman on the plane asked me for some information about our church. She may or may not go to our church website and check us out. If she does happen to read this or listen to the sermon I’d like to thank her. The honest conversation was really helpful to me. There are a lot of wonderful people who do a lot of amazing things in the world who do not call themselves Christians.