One of the top ten most frustrating experiences I’ve had was at a Passion Conference. Seriously. As we sang “Hosanna in the Highest” I was surrounded by people falling to their knees, tears streaming down their faces, hands in the air. The whole building was going nuts with God moments.
The whole building minus me, that is.
I had no idea what the crap the word “Hosanna” meant. It made me feel like everyone else around me was faking it. It made me angry. It made me want to walk away.
I can’t imagine that anyone likes that feeling of being left out. I mean, it really sucks. Yet we are leaving people out. It may be a complete accident, but it is happening. Ok… Maybe I should have been studying up on my New Testament terminology before going to worship. But we are still leaving people out because we don’t take the time to fully tell them about this story of love.
I realize, of course, that everyone needs to know that Jesus is the way. I know, guys… but I struggle with how a lot of Christians go about sharing that information. The truth is a lot of people are desperately lost and they aren’t hearing things the same way you are. At the first sign of “if you don’t believe exactly like I do,” they run away. I don’t blame them, either. That rhetoric gives no room for crossing over, no bridge, no grace.
Yes, Jesus is the Way. Yes. Absolutely.
But listen, if I got the impression of a pious person telling me I had to believe exactly the way they do (and I know that isn’t quite the case, but it is still the initial impression put out there), then I wouldn’t listen, either. I need to know you love me before I hear something even in the neighborhood of that ballpark at all. I need to learn about grace. I need to learn about a suffering messiah,
I need to learn all the words to “Pharaoh, Pharaoh“, then I need to put it all together. Remember we are talking to the same people who have seen plenty of “turn or burn” signs as they go to a Braves game.
I think the traditions of what we call “outreach” have become backward. Why do folks demand that nonbelievers immediately turn and say “Jesus is Lord”? Yes, I get where that comes from in the Bible. However, unless you’ve spent your life in church, the meaning of the word “Lord” is a bit confusing- and I can certainly relate to that frustration.
What I get from the Bible is the God who wants to give you a relationship with himself. He loves us. He’s reaching out for us. We read all this wedding and romance imagery yet we can’t wait to make other people “go all the way” in the first few moments.
And I think that is spiritual molestation.
I’m not debating the importance of Jesus, or the importance of learning that he is the way through which we are all saved. I’m just questioning the methods with which we share.
What do you think? How did you get saved? What keeps you from listening?