Love God and neighbor…
A young manager of a coffee shop overhears a group of pastors at their weekly coffee time. They discuss how to reach people—evangelize and spread good news. They are full of ideas and energy abounds. They, however, have not taken the time to know the manager. They do not know that the manager was raised in church and has given up on church. She struggles with faith and how church marginalizes people. She has a tender heart for hurting people. She watches. She overhears. And they leave with their evangelistic strategies and people projects.
It’s a beautiful world.
By world, I mean the people who inhabit time, space and culture. I still believe there is something inherent about being created in the image of God—intelligence, beauty, creativity. The capacity to think, feel and act sacrificially is astounding. The complexities of being human cannot be denied.
It’s an ugly world, too!
People do horrible things in the name of survival, protection, fear. Religion can be very ugly as well. Human history is replete with horrific acts done in the “name of God”—The Crusades. The Holocaust. And countless forms of genocide, slavery, and racism.The Bible can be used to justify or marginalize anyone and anything.
Ideas matter. They shape, fuel and justify behavior.
To believe in Jesus Christ—his ideas, teachings and ways as recorded in the gospels challenges anyone’s religion and life. His anger showed up when the practice of religion hurt people.
Jesus spent a great deal of time clarifying the nature of God to religious thinking people.
What irony—the ones who spent the most time thinking about loving God and neighbor, often, miss it or misapply it. No wonder so many people are done with “church.”
The cultural center is gone these days.
That is, the Judeo-Christian ethic and all that it implies for doing life is gone. Us “church people” spend a great deal of time moralizing, lecturing, lamenting and decrying the “liberalism” or “fundamentalism” that puts people in particular religious boxes. And so, we stay on the treadmill of futility hoping that things will get better and people will re-turn to church. Something must change. It’s us!
So what can we do well?
- We would do well to re-engage the Gospels looking for how Jesus loved God and neighbor.
- We would do well to repent (change our mind and behavior for how we treat people as made in the image of God).
- We would do well to listen, rather than talk.
- We would do well to avoid all the labeling and demonizing of others.
- We would do well to follow Jesus Christ of the Gospels—full of grace and truth.
- If your religion feels a bit unhealthy—it probably is. You can change it.
- A young manager of a coffee shop overhears a group of pastors at their weekly coffee time . . .
- Love God. Love neighbor.
It starts in coffee shops and the traffic patterns of life.