"The message I got was always, 'God is great, you're a worm, try harder.' "
- - a teen after leaving the church
"Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion..."
- - Tradition #11 of Alcoholics Anonymous
Once in a while, I go to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and read the heart of the book, chapter 5, which talks about how the alcoholic cannot hope to change or get rid of his core problem (which is NOT alcohol, by the way; alcohol is only a symptom) without God being the Director of his or her life. It's an eye-opener for many people. It was for me the first time I heard those steps.
Even though the book does not specifically mention Jesus, the 12 steps of AA are a blueprint for having a personal relationship with God based on admitting our need, submitting to Him and repenting of an old lifestyle to embrace, day by day, "a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty." (chapter 5). This was Jesus' message to a T.
My quotes, above, contrast the current message the western church sends to people against the approach that AA takes toward bringing new people in to embrace their message. They are polar opposites. And that - in my opinion - is so very sad. Many people are revolted by the judgment and the bigotry that is so rampant in those who call themselves Christians and attend church on Sunday, yet use their beliefs as a weapon to exclude rather than as a magnet to attract.
But it was not always so. The early church lived their lives in such a way that people were drawn to the Saviour. They didn't pound people over the head with the Scriptures or judge them for their debauchery. They loved each other, supported each other, and cared for each other's needs. THAT in itself would attract people to the Lover of our souls. True, they did not participate in the practices of the people around them who were not followers of The Way. But they did not torch their temples, mutilate their artwork, or protest their bath-houses either. (That only came later, once someone made Christianity the state religion...) No, their policy was the same as AA's. Attract. Yes, they were to 'preach the gospel' but largely through their lives, by living a lifestyle of love, by healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, AND NOT by shoving a 20-something pound Bible down their throats. They lived life to the full, not by insisting on a bunch of rules and demanding perfection, but by listening to the Voice of Love.
Free image by hince at Pixabay
Love accepts. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love perseveres. Love is loyal. Love believes the best of people. Love gives. Love cares. Love forgives. And since God is Love, God is all those things ... and more.
My calling - if you can call it that - my passion, possibly even my ministry - is to wake the dead. Not the pagans. Not the 'unwashed' ... but believers.
Listen to the Voice of Love. Receive His Love and pass it on: no conditions, no rules, no judgment! Accept. Believe. Give. Forgive. Care. Just as He did for you.
May God - who is Love - show that Love to you today ... in a new and fresh way.