Stephanie, the challenges you explain are both real and also misnomer often created by the Christian community at large. Finding a good church where people look, act, and follow Jesus is hard sometimes. On the surface, places can look like that for a while, but if you’re never allowed to struggle or have conflict with other people and learn how to resolve and love one another, then that environment isn’t one I’d recommend. I’ve been lucky to find a place where I’ve been for 10 years now. They exist, but don’t go searching for a unicorn church, because they don’t exist. There will be blood. I tell the people in my church that if they stick around long enough, I’ll light them up at some point because I’m messy too.

In regards to your question about non-Christians? That’s the misnomer. The Christian community has done a horrible job in regards to evangelism. People become pet projects as opposed to their actual friends. I remind people all the time that Jesus was consistently accused of being a drunkard and hypocrite because of the places, people, and environments he spent his time in. Many well-intentioned churches have done something similar to Jim Crow Laws with non-Christians—separate but equal, which is anything but the heart of God. If you’ll also notice in the Scriptures, the only time Jesus ever quotes the Torah (Old Testament) is to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Devil. To everyone else he tells stories (parables) and befriends them. Don’t ever forget that tax collectors were considered so vile that they got their own brand of sinner (in the scripture it always says “the tax collectors and sinners”). So your responsibility is to love and befriend those around you. You should not have an agenda. I never do, and have many, many non-christian friends as well as people we interact with everyday at HeartSupport who believe different than we do (half our audience is Christian, and the other half is not). In order for us to live the life of Christ and impact those around us, grace ALWAYS must precede truth. Notice this is what Christ does in every interaction with an unbeliever (the woman caught in adultery, the centurion whose servant is sick). As a friend of mine eloquently put it:

If you become of friend of someone, you’ll know their true story, and if you know their true story, you’ll understand their sin, and when you understand their sin, you’ll know how to pray, and when you know how to pray, God will show you your own sin and how to love, and when you love, and keep loving, and keep loving, they will want to know what you think, and then you will speak truth, and they will want to hear, and they will want to know your God, and God will change their heart, and then He will help them change the way they live.

It’s not our responsibility to change people or figure out some weird bait-and-switch where we can be like “aha! gotcha! Now the Jesus Juke!” My only job in this life is to play matchmaker and start the introductions. But that’s after I’ve become their friend and they ask me what I think. Believe me, in a world as broken as the one we’re in, they’ll know you’re a Christian and wonder what you think.

Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

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