I’ve got this problem. How do you balance and live in the tension of relationships with fellow Christians, and yet being focused on non-Christians?
Sincerely, Tired Tony”
Dear Tired Tony,
I’m thinking you might have become a victim fo the “us” and “them” mentality, in this case, “Christian” and “non-Christian.” You might be surprised to learn that such labels were rarely if ever used in the Bible. Even the label “Christian” was originally born out of a derogatory reference people used to identify Christ followers, making fun of how they imitated Jesus.
Tony, who really is a “Christian?” Is it someone who has all the proper “Christian” theological answers? And who’s to say what those are exactly? I’m sure you’ve noticed that there are many different interpretations of the scriptures, each person claiming their view is correct. But even if someone could claim having correct Christian theology, what if that person’s life didn’t resemble anything like the life Jesus lived? Would that person be a “Christian?” And what about a person with an intellectual or learning disability? Can they be a “Christian?” Is a “Christian” someone who prayed the “Jesus prayer”? And what if their motivation for doing so was to make their girlfriend happy?
And Tony, who is the “non-Christian?” As far as i know, every human being deep down desires the abundant life Jesus spoke of – a life of love, peace, freedom, and contentment. Also, every human being (consciously or unconsciously) is seeking that life one way or another. Tony, have you arrived yet in living that life? How far do you or anyone have to go before you jump out of one label into the other? Does it change moment by moment – you live in alignment with the spiritual teachings of Jesus and you are a “Christian,” you live out of sync with Jesus’ spiritual teachings and you are a “non-Christian?”
Tony, try this. See every human being as a living, breathing image, reflection, or expression of God. Keep in mind that every person you know or meet desires what you desire, and, like you, is seeking them the best way they know how. People also fear the same things you do, Tony. You’d be surprised by how much alike we all really are at the deepest level. Assume that every person has learned something valuable on their journey that you could benefit from. Whoever it is, focus your energies on affirming and encouraging the truth you see in other people. Forget about trying to find the right label to pin on them. Instead, desire love, peace, well-being, and freedom for every person. Have compassion on every person you meet, and be a tangible expression of God’s love as you go. By doing this, you are living in the way Jesus lived.
What Tony, are you going to relate differently to people based on whatever label you suppose is right for them? Did Jesus do this? Did he treat the people labeled as “sinners” as less than other people? Tony, while you’re at it you might as well drop all your other human labels by which you judge people. Instead, just go with this: every person is 100% human; every person is 100% and equally created as an expression of the image, likeness, and being of God; every person is 100% loved and accepted by God; and every person is equally 100% invited to embrace the spiritual abundance that Jesus lived and offered. We are all here to help each other shed the obstacles that are hindering us, and to live the truth together.
Hope this helps.