Yesterday I posted some brief thoughts about unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why it Matters by Kinnaman and Lyons. I had a light bulb moment this morning where it occurred to me that what the survey results that Kinnaman and Lyons report shows is that a very important question, maybe the most important question to young adults when they are interacting with others is: “Do you love me?”
A quick look at the list of negative attributes that are attributed to Christians (hypocritical, too focused on gaining converts, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, and judgmental) shows that a unifying theme is that young adults feel like Christians do not love people who are different than they are. The question they are asking the church is: “Do you love me?” And the answer they are telling us that they are hearing is a resounding “No!” For me this is a powerful realization for two reasons:
- Because I think there is a lot of truth to it. Christians often are not good at really loving people who are different than they are. We often aren’t even good at loving other Christians from different backgrounds. (One of the most harsh and unloving reactions I have ever had came from a conversation I tried to start with a Christian from another tradition where I was trying to learn more about the differences between us. I am not saying that I was perfect and blameless, but I felt ridiculed, disrespected, and unloved.)
- The second reason this is a powerful realization is because Jesus commanded us to Love God and love our neighbor. And I think he actually meant it. Jesus did not say love God and people who think and live just like you do. He said love God and love the other people I created in my image.
I think that coming to actually love people who are different than us is one of the biggest challenges facing the church. If we do not love other people, no matter how they are living, we are disobeying the commands of Christ and we are not living out our faith. If that is the case, no wonder people aren’t bursting through our doors wanting what we have. Why would anyone want to join a group that they feel hates, despises, or looks down on them?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
My those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ go and do this.