Evangelism: Love Changes Everything

 

“re – ligio = reconnect – true religion connects life in this world with the life of the One who first created it and then redeemed it.”

Len Hjalmarson

Every time I hear judgements coming from the Christian community I cringe.  Like when that guy did that Koran burning down in the southern United States.  Or when that church would go to graveside memorial services to protest with really mean signs about the actions or deeds of the deceased.  Or when Christians will straight up call other people abominations.  It goes on, and on and on.  I cringe every single time.  It makes me embarrassed.  I can’t help but wonder if this may be a reason why people ‘do not have ears to hear’ or eyes to see.  It makes me long to scream, “the story is much more than that.” 

It’s as if we are still stuck in this ‘modern’ concept thinking that Jesus followers are in a completely separate, isolated place, where the evilness of the rest of the world cannot reach us.  It assumes a complete separation between heaven and earth.  And the only way people know any different is when the judgements from those Christians in that special Jesus place start raining down on the lesser folks who just don’t get it.  Heck, they may even be ‘abominations.’ 

Only, Jesus prayed ‘your will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.’  During the disciples prayer in John Jesus prayed ‘I’m not asking you to take them out of the world…’  Jesus is talking about a collision between heaven and earth.

It is important to make known the collision between this world and ‘the life of the One who first created it and then redeemed it.’  This is why the story is important.  This is why I am so passionate about exploring what sharing of a faith so beautiful looks like.   

Evangelism, speaking faith, sharing life together is grounded in the assumption that God is active on this planet.  That God is a God of love.  Love pays attention to the humanity in people.  Love listens for the soul.  It puts a face to the ‘issue’ or ‘topic’ or ‘insert other de-humanizing language here.’  I have engaged discussions that were completely changed by merely putting a face, or a story, or a name to the very human experience of life.

Love changes everything.  Love changes the way we engage the story.  Love changes the way we participate with God.  Love changes the way we share about the redemptive collision between heaven and earth.  Love changes the way we seek faithfulness.  It’s messy, it’s painful, it is horribly frustrating, and we especially don’t always get it right.  Love is on the ground and deeply entrenched within the collision.  Right where God is.

What about you?  How do you wish for the Christian community to share/frame the reconnection/collision between heaven and earth? 

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6 comments

  1. Andy J. Funk · May 10, 2012

    Thanks for sharing Chris. I’m preaching this Sunday on John 15:9-17; Jesus’ command of love. I’m struck by the love many Christians, I might say most, have been communicating to the world. “I hate the sin, but love the sinner”. I find that, even though there may be some great intentions with this statement, what it communicates most often is, “I hate the sin, and you being the one doing the sin makes me hate you too”. We restrict our expressions of love in many different ways, and we do this using scripture. Sometimes, at least for purposes that it is used, the bible can be the greatest enemy…yikes! We tell women that we love them and they have the Holy Spirit as much as anybody, but they are not allowed to teach and preach in the church…we love them so much that we keep them submissive under a man where they can still bring glory to God, the dude! I’m on this rant these days, forgive me. Bottom line for me: If we love because we first were loved by Christ, then why are we adverse to unleashing that love with reckless abandon. We can’t even do that at home, never mind in the freakin’ world. Perhaps we haven’t fully submitted ourselves, to be freed up to love in such ways, and not worry about how right or wrong we are in the process. Just some thoughts.

  2. chris lenshyn · May 10, 2012

    Thanks for your words Andy. Our actions speak to what God is doing. More importantly, our actions and words frame the narrative of God’s actions, if it is not framed in love I worry about what people think Christianity and the God in whom we have faith in, is all about.

  3. len1919 · May 10, 2012

    I’m tempted to quote Augustine here: O felix culpa – O happy fault that merited such a great salvation! He captures the paradox that had God not given the command not to eat, there would have been no need for Jesus to take on our life and redeem it. So maybe “love the sinner, hate the sin” just tries to bypass a paradox too large for us to grasp. Love the sinner in his sin in order to bring a hope beyond anything the world can fathom.

    • chris lenshyn · May 11, 2012

      Participating in that which we do not fully understand is a gift of faith… assuming God so loved(s) us that God gave his only Son! Thanks for your words Len!

  4. dispensinggrace · May 13, 2012

    Like Andy, I’m starting to question the usefulness of this whole “hate the sin, love the sinner” thing. Not that I’m saying we shouldn’t hate sin, but we need to be a lot more careful about what we define as sin. Furthermore, how stupid is it to be associated with what you’re against rather than what you’re for? Soundbites aren’t terribly useful, but if I had to come up with a slogan off the top of my head for missional-evangelical-Anabaptist-Christianity, it would be something more like “Loving all of God’s children where they are and striving to become more like Jesus together.” Similar in spirit to Len’s last sentence too. Thanks for your thoughts, Chris!

    • chris lenshyn · May 14, 2012

      Thanks for stopping by…

      Ya, I completely agree with your words on standing for what you believe rather than what you are not. It is very helpful during our time in church history, it appears, as we are increasingly becoming known for what we are not. In your last sentence I appreciate your inclusion of community.

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