At this writing, I’m sitting down at a quaint little coffee shop on Ludlow Avenue. I’ve come to be a big fan of this place—the coffee is great, the food is pretty tasty as well. This place is full of students looking to get away from the noise of main campus, as well as businessmen and women on their lunch break. I like to set up my “portable office” down here a few days a week.
As I have been talking with people here I am finding something that rattles the very core of what I thought was true versus what actually is. When I begin having these conversations with people, we talk about anything and everything. But, when I bring up Jesus to people who aren’t Christians, the results are shocking. When Jesus is brought up, people are fascinated, intrigued, and usually smile and talk about how much they love Christ and His teachings. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why aren’t these people coming to church, then, if they feel that way?” While that is a valid question, that answer is rather complex.
I am finding more and more, that it’s not Jesus, it’s not the Gospel, it’s not discipleship that people have a problem with (though there will always be critics and skeptics). Rather, it’s Christians that people don’t like or have had a bad experience with. When these people hear the name Jesus, it’s like you’re reminding them of their best friend. “He’s beautiful,” some say. “He is a wise man, like a shaman or a guru,” others say. “I want to be like him,” a young lady says. Sure these are very surface observations, but at the same time, it’s great. To me, it’s amazing and encouraging to see students on a state campus talking, with enthusiasm, positively about Jesus!
When, however, you ask them (or they tell you) about Christians the tone changes dramatically. There is a new book out called, Jesus, Save Me From Your Followers, if that’s any indication to the climate of the world’s view of the average Christian. As I talk and research more and more, I find that the same theme reverberates throughout: they like Jesus, but not His followers. I think, as I sit here, I might have a reason as to why.
First, we’ve taken the liberty to isolate ourselves in what’s we’ll call the Christianity Bubble. We put this bubble up to keep bad things out, and good things in—a noble idea. At the start, things go great, and we truly grow…but slowly, as we phase out our friendships with non-Christians and begin to only hang around (exclusively) with other Christians, we begin to lose touch with reality…and the lost. We begin to focus all our time, energy, and resources on doing things that really, when all is boiled away, just entertain Christians. Sure, we’ll invite others in, but we won’t go out of our way to do it. We tag it with a biblical name, like “fellowship,” so that we feel like we’re doing something, but in reality, it’s like being a missionary to Buddhist China and then only hanging out with Christians the whole time. I feel like I got sucked into this trap, and the reason I leave my office to come down here is to slowly push my way back out of my happy, comfortable, bubble life.
Jesus says to His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mat 28:19-20). Jesus didn’t say stay indoors and all the world will come to you. We have to begin to get comfortable (like the 1st century church) with life outside the bubble. Jesus also says this, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Now we have usually heard this as meaning the Church will always be there on earth—and it will, but also, in the Greek, it means the church takes an OFFENSIVE stance against Hell. It doesn’t come to our gates—we bum rush it! Something to think about anyways.