Tuesday, June 28, 2005

witness II

I’ve been caught up with labels lately: conservative vs. liberal, modern vs. post-modern, churched vs. unchurched, believer vs. seeker. Labels carry a lot of baggage that don’t necessarily apply, but that doesn’t stop us from using them. They are such a convenient way of categorizing someone and therefore trying to understand them.

When I think about what it means to be a Christian, the labels I immediately stumble on are believer vs. seeker. If forced to pick between calling myself a believer or a seeker, I would have to say that I am a seeker. Belief for me is fleeting. It's like the wisp of a smoke ring hanging in the air and then melting away. I can see it for a moment, but then it's gone and there's only the memory of it. I think that's why I blog, to make remembering easier.

Many churches are trying to reach seekers. My church is trying to reach seekers. This week our theme was Jesus and Witness. As a seeker, it makes me cringe. When I think of witness, I think of evangelism and when I think of evangelism, I think of tele-evangelists or Jehovah's Witness or worst of all hypocrites. I can't speak for all seekers, but I can tell you what kind of "witnessing" I’m looking for.

Respect my journey. Walk with me on my journey. Engage me where I am. I think my Dad provides a great example of this. He's a retired professor of theology and a Lutheran pastor. He has known since my college days that I was disillusioned with Christianity. But he respected my journey, he didn't try to block my way or change my course, instead he provides unconditional love, support and examples of Christ-like behavior.

Please don’t try to save my soul. My soul is not yours to save and I don't think you should really be worried about it. Jesus did not ask his followers to make "believers" out of all nations, he asked them to make disciples. I think one of my favorite hymns provides a good outline for making disciples by remembering:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

Let me be authentic. I question everything. If you know my son, it appears this may be hereditary. I need a safe environment to be authentic in, to raise my questions and doubts. I need to be comfortable showing my weaknesses, flaws, and spiritual struggles. Only then will I be able to grow.

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