In my last post, I talked about the desire within each of us to be engaged with as a person and not a problem, to be treated as fully human by our fellow man. I was particularly looking at the context of how Christians treat each other.
|Person or Project?|
Moving beyond that context, I’d like to explore how we treat those outside our faith. Do we simply love people, or do we treat them as projects - another notch in our evangelism belt, another recruit to ‘our’ church? Are we living examples of the good news of God’s love for all people or are we only interested in getting people to ‘say the sinner’s prayer’ so we can tick another box and move on to the next one?
After a recent shopping trip with my youngest son, the topic of marketing techniques came up in the conversation. I explained to him that marketing is all about creating a desire in people for products they may not even need. Rather than presenting your product and saying, “If you need product x, ours is a really good one to choose”, it has become a case of creating the need - convincing people that they need product x to begin with - and then pushing your particular version of it, using any and all means possible.
I can’t help wondering if we have succumbed to a similar way of operating when it comes to interacting with those who don't share our faith. Jesus told us to make disciples, but have we somehow turned that into a marketing exercise to make converts? Instead of simply living in authentic, loving relationship, do we fall into the trap of ‘loving’ others just so that we can convert them?
Are we interested in people beyond the context of their faith (or lack thereof)? Are they of worth simply because they exist? As men and women of God, do we recognise that every single person bears the imprint of their Creator? Do we believe they are made in His image and is that enough reason for us to value them?
As I was pondering these things, I came across an article entitled Seven Lies Christians Tell. Lie number 7 reads:
Finally, and most importantly, we lie (insidious and barbaric lying) when we pretend like we really, really, really love the other person when in fact we don't. We do not love people when we dismiss their story (including their hopes, values, beliefs and convictions). We do not love people when we do not empathically listen to them, as opposed to spending that time formulating a counter-argument. We do not love others when we reduce them to labels, caricatures, or opponents. If we love, then we will find them shockingly beautiful and fascinating creations. We will find their stories riveting. We will radiate affection. Humans know deep down when they are or are not truly loved.
Let's be people who truly love; who recognise the humanity of others; who actively listen to their stories; who treat others with dignity and worth just because we can!