Have you ever wondered why the secular world would not want to be a christian? A follower of Jesus? A Jesus freak, bible thumper, holy roller, or a bible zealot? I wondered that a lot... until I began hearing these kinds of phrases and even less when I began to hear stories of how my fellow well meaning Christians tried to "save" my unbelieving friends. After all, we know a marvelous and wonderful and generous God! What could you possibly see that would make you say no to following and getting to know Him?
Unfortunately, plenty. You know what they say about first impressions...
What I have consistently noticed about the stories I have heard is one word; desperation. It happens when you care about someone and want so badly for them to realize the truth and to see the light, that desperation moves in and takes over. Suddenly your beautiful truth turns into a one time offer that is only good for the next 2 minutes and if the person declines then they are going straight to hell! Then, just like that... BAM you are slapped with a lovely sticker that labels you a bible beater, Jesus Freak, etc.
Desperation in relationships is dangerous.
“Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them”
Desperation is like stealing from the Mafia: you stand a good chance of attracting the wrong attention.
The truth is that the best influence one can have in relationships is to become irresistible. We've all known someone at sometime who had that certain something about them made us want to be around them. We are drawn to them, they are irresistible. They don't coheres or try to change you. Instead you change in spite of yourself. The funniest thing is that they probably said next to nothing to make you change. Or maybe the few carefully chosen words that were spoken were more than enough to get you moving on the right path.
Our words can be keys to unlocking hidden treasures one moment and slamming shut the prison doors another if we are not careful. One thing for sure though is that if you and I are able to show the world the best side of the Christian faith, it will be through love and not desperation. Love is the key - the center. Without love, we have nothing, are nothing, mean nothing.
1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)
1.If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3.If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4.Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8.Love never fails.
I have looked for better definitions of true love, but ultimately the bible sums it up perfectly and if you'll notice, desperation is not even vaguely mentioned. In fact there is nothing desperate at all about this definition. It describes Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit, who they are, how they work, walk and speak.
Okay, so if love is patient, then why do we feel that the soul in need must surrender right now, this instant? If love is not rude, then why do we walk right over people and interrupt and ignore when doubts are expressed? If it is not self seeking or boastful, then why do we keep a tally of all those we've "won over"?
One thing I have noticed about stories of redemption (so to speak) is a different word; love. Love is irresistible when applied like the bible advises.
At church today Pastor Bob was talking about the testimony of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The part he stressed was that their testimony is so great because they said
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:17 and 18
Their testimony says whether God does what we hope or not, He is still God and we will still serve Him and love Him. We need to employ the same attitude in the secular world. Whether we "save" an unbeliever or not, our attitude should be consistent with this testimony. We should not allow our fear of failure to turn into desperation in order to rescue the world. That is after all, God's job. Our job is to be the irresistible light that attracts other flies like us to the warm glow of God's agape love.
How can we be this kind of beacon? It starts with friendship.
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.”
Henri Nouwen quotes (Dutch Christian writer 1932 - 1996)
If there is one thing I have learned in my efforts, it is that people don't want to be preached at. If they wanted that, they would already be in a church of some kind. No, people need and want loyalty, honesty, depth, understanding, good company, a shoulder to cry on, and lean on. Think about your best friend and what qualities you appreciate the most. If you can be those things to others, that is what makes you a beacon, a shining light, a desirable addition to any group of people in this context.
Really the golden rule is again the perfect measuring stick. What would draw you? What would push you away? It's easier said than done and is probably seemingly a slower process, but when you invest yourself into people, you'll be amazed at the results. As always, I again preach to myself here as well, so I'll leave you with this last quote.
“Don't despair too much if you see beautiful things destroyed, if you see them perish. Because the best things are always growing in secret.”