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Posts Tagged ‘Aliens’

One of the most critical questions for the church for the last century or so has been, How do we relate to the world around us?

It is essential that we do a better job of wrestling with the question because our entire ministry to the world depends on the attitude with which we approach those who dwell outside the protective walls of the church.

I begin my meditation on the matter with a simple observation: When we follow Jesus Christ, he leads us into the world, not into the church. Yes, he visited synagogues but did not set up shop there. Instead, he kept moving into encounters on the streets. He did not become a ruler of a synagogue. He met people where they were and asks almost no questions about their backgrounds or situations.

One of my favorite stories is that of the Greek, the Syrophoenician with the demon possessed daughter. Jesus is in Gentile territory and is approached by an unclean Gentile female. After a brief exchange, Jesus tells her she may go her way and return to her now-healed daughter. That she was not a Jew, was not like Jesus, is simply not an issue in this story. Rather, the essential point is that she heard the word of the Lord, though it was in the form of a parable, and spoke the appropriate word in response.

Why didn’t Jesus call her to convert to Judaism? Let’s think about this for a bit.

Jesus found, so far as we are told, no religious signs in her. What he did find was faith and an attentive ear. And that was enough.

If we will listen carefully to those around us, we will hear many signs of faith. The question is, Will we affirm and value those signs or tell people it’s not enough? Will we not like them until they become more like us?

Paul said, “I have become all things to all people, that I might be all means save some.” Most Christians, it appears to me, reject such thinking all together. We want to make sure everybody knows not how much we are like them but how different we are. And that usually seems to mean we want them to think we are better than they.

Jesus and Paul had an inclusive attitude, widening their own circle to include and bless as may people as possible. Today, I fear, it is more fashionable among Christians to want to exclude any who seem different. Think, for example, of the so-called “evangelicals” of our day applauding Trump for wanting to exclude hundreds of thousands of people from our nation. Jesus would be furious, would he not?

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