People leave church for all kinds of reasons. But one of the key ones - according to the published research and conversations I've had - is the behaviour of other Christians. People want to know Jesus but a few years of carping, criticism and condemnation by members of the church can be very waring and cause people to leave.
The sad thing is that many of these people are reticent to try another church because they assume the same thing will happen again.
Worse, the experience can corrode their faith. After all, if this is the way Christians behave, maybe that says something about the faith; maybe it means that it doesn't work, that it's not really true.
Jesus talked about those who cause little ones to stumble - something about mill-stones and lakes, I seem to remember. Paul wished that those troubling the Galatians would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12). Such talk makes you wince and wish for caveats until you've talked to some of the people whose faith has been shipwrecked by older brothers and sisters.
This is why Paul goes on to urge his Galatian readers to love each other or they risk biting, devouring and destroying one another.
Often our judgmental attitudes mask insecurities that we are afraid to admit or are born of wounds inflicted on us by others during our Christian lives. We perpetuate a cycle of harmed and harming.
So, here's an idea: if there's someone in your church that you don't get on with, who seems more likely to tear you down than build you up, invite them to join you for a latte (or whatever trendy beverage takes their fancy) and a chat about life (especially the things you have in common). It's much harder to knock chunks out of someone you know, whose vulnerabilities you've seen, who've passions and struggles you've shared.
Of course, it might make no difference but it's only set you back the back the price of a beverage.
This is a liturgical act - Romans 12:17-21 in action - and as such might bring God's light and love into situations and relationships which badly need both.
It's just a thought
Monday, September 19, 2005
Latte, liturgy and living together
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Your thoughts have hit a raw nerve but I like your idea - I might just give it a go. The price of a latte pales into insignificance when compared to the price paid on the cross for me. It's what Jesus would have me do.
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