To My Non-Christian Friends: What You Should Know

non-christian

I am a Christian. As a Christian- particularly one of the Evangelical bent- mine is a tradition that has a reputation for abrasive condemnations of those who aren’t Christians: screaming brimstone and judgment from street corners, condemning alternate viewpoints and pushing legislation in an attempt to perpetuate our own beliefs. We’ve not exactly painted ourselves in a good light.

But the flag under which Christians are called to die isn’t one of religious propaganda, nor is the heart of our gospel a ‘turn or burn’ story. That said, there are things I- as a Christian- hope, want, pray, desire and truly want all non-Christians to know.

Here’s a few of them:

 

1) You are a person, not a project.

When I look at you I don’t see a box to be checked, a sinner to be saved, a victory to be won or a task to be accomplished. I see a person: a person with insights, thoughts, hopes, dreams, pains, and desires; I see a human-being, a human-being with a human story.

And sharing stories is a nebulous task. It requires time, trust, coffee, late nights, long emails, tears, laughter, life together. It takes relationship.

Projects require work, but relationships flow from love. If I see you as a hash mark on the inside of my prayer closet, then I don’t see you as (I believe) God sees you. I’ve dehumanized you; I’ve reduced you to a one-dimensional reality that I can print neatly on my Christian resume. That’s not what I’m trying to do. There’s no agenda behind my interactions with you. I’m not saying my intentions are always pure.

I’m saying that- at the end of the day- I’ve nothing to gain from you but what I hope to give.

And that’s love.

 

2) I don’t think you’re stupid.

While I may not believe what you believe- and I certainly haven’t the experiences nor the frame of mind with which to totally understand or relate to your views- I don’t think they’re idiotic or absurd. I don’t think you’re stupid.

Stanley Hauerwas, a Christian ethicist and theologian, once joked that he wasn’t smart enough to be an atheist. And I think there’s truth to that. Likewise, I have not the patience to be Buddhist, the courage to be agnostic, or the devotion to be Islamic. I am a Christian because I pass Jesus’ entrance exam: I come broken, sick, looking, hungry, sinning, repenting, and believing by grace. I’m incapable of any other qualifications; so I certainly don’t think you’re stupid for meeting them.

 

3) I think you’re wrong about God. But I might be wrong.

There simply is not empirical evidence to prove or disprove God. There exists no factual proof that leads us on an undeniable path to one religion over another. Thousands of years of philosophical and theological thought fall on either side of the Chrtistian viewpoint. It’d be either a lie or “I know without a doubt that God- as revealed in Jesus Christ- exists.” Indeed, for the Christian I would say this is impossible.

The Christian believes on the basis of faith; in faith I believe God to be real and revealed in the person of Christ. But I am gambling my chips and I’ve yet to see the final cards overturned. “Blessed are those,” says the Bible, “who have not seen and yet believe.”

Part of faith is the humble acknowledgement that it I could be wrong.
4) You are not my enemy.

I am not against you but for you. Too often, we Christians draw lines and ready ourselves for battle. Don’t get me wrong, as a believer in the one, true, God of love and peace, I also believe that there is an enemy- an anti-God, or Satan, if you will. I believe evil exists. And I do believe it has influence over people.

But I don’t think you’re hell’s minion just because you follow Richard Dawkins, wear a turban, believe in reincarnation or refuse to read the Bible.

Across the ages, wars have been fought over religion; and too many of these have been fought in the name of Christ. I’ve no desire to wage another one- and the Jesus I follow never asked me too.

What I want to do is invite you to a feast. I want to open the doors and invite you in to life with a God who went out into his creation to reveal himself to us. I want to dance with you in the tension of doubt and faith. I want to hear your story and see it as part of the story. We may not believe the same thing, but what if we’re both asking the same questions? Might that be a possibility?

We’re not that different, you and I. There’s nothing special about me that’s not matched by something beautiful in you. And we may have disagreements; but I hope that doesn’t mean we can’t talk.

Because there’s a conversation to be had. A conversation between creation and created, a conversation between you and me, us and them, they and we, God and us. And, at the end of the day- no matter what you believe, my desire is for us to enter the conversation together.

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Why Christians Should (Not/Never/Please Don’t) Use The Left Behind Movie For Evangelism

Below is an exhaustive list of all the reasons Christians should use the Left Behind movie as an evangelistic tool to convert unbelievers to Christianity:

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Yeah…so, here’s the thing: 

Uh. Yeah…No.

 

Tomorrow, the long awaited dreaded remake of the Left Behind series will be released in theatres. Over the past several months, there’s been much chatter among Christians about how great this movie will be as an Evangelism tactic, logic which flows from the same stream of thought that says a nuclear arsenal is important for world peace. At the forefront of such endorsements are sentiments such as those expressed by Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson who praised the film saying:

“…opening the door to unbelievers has never been so much fun.”

But anyone who’s read the books, seen the first movie or seen the trailer for this movie has to wonder what on earth Robinson is talking about. The Left Behind series depicts masses of people dying, planes crashing, apocalyptic terror and wrath descending upon the earth, and- have you not heard?- Nicholas Cage staring down the screen at regular intervals. What, exactly, is Robinson’s definition of “fun”? It all sounds a bit terrifying to me.

I’ve already written (rather long-windedly) about some seriously dire implications of the Left Behind series that all Christians should consider. But theological differences aside, I always take serious issue with any Evangelical tactic that is based primarily on fear. The idea of filling a room with people who don’t believe in God so they can witness a depiction of all the peril and terror they will face if they don’t convert to Christianity is just short of being classified as an emotional Crusade. It’s psychological manipulation, forcing people to make a decision based on the potential of dire consequences.

Furthermore, the basis of Christianity is not a fear of God. True, it is necessary. But do not forget what James says: even demons know God exists and shudder; even demons have a fear of God- but it doesn’t do them much good.

Because fear does not propel someone to give up everything they have and follow a lonely rabbi into the pits of poverty and despair. Fear does not prompt someone to be meek, a peacemaker, and humble to the point of self-denial. Fear does not propel you to take up your cross and follow Christ.

On the other hand: love does.

Christ never used fear as a persuasive tactic. Rather he utilized real, transformative, and relevant love. Love that was present, love that was selfless and humble with dirty hands, tired eyes and a crown of thorns.

The Left Behind series doesn’t depict such love but trades it for violence and wrath. Again (lest I be misheard) God will judge. But blunt, in-your-face proclamation of the coming judgment is not the means of conversion portrayed in the gospels or acts of the early church. And its foolhardy, to say the least, to utilize it as such now.

If you want to go see the Left Behind movie on Friday then cool, fine, go for it. Grab popcorn, a slushie, find a babysitter, have a ball. Personally, I’d sooner spend my time and money on an underwater basket weaving class than this movie… but we can still be friends.

But please, I beg of you: don’t turn to your non-Christian co-worker and ask if they wanna hang out then buy them a ticket. Don’t let your non-Christian friend’s one view of Christianity this weekend be one that instills fear; don’t let their one perspective of the Christian God be witnessed through a lens of wrath, violence and pain. And for heavensakes, please don’t call that “fun.”

Or at least don’t believe that this is something that will produce true love for God, true conversion to his flock. Because love, not fear, is what wins people to Christ, it always has and it always will.

So save your money, save your time, and spend it one something else. If you must see the movie, fine- but please, leave your friends behind.

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Other Articles On Left Behind:

TF: How Not To Do Evangelism- Slacktivist

The One’s We ‘Left Behind’- After Lunch Theism

5 Things To Consider Before Taking The Left Behind Movie Seriously- Formerly Fundie

 

 

 

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