If you read yesterday’s post, “Narcissistic Evangelism,” then this morning’s reflection from the gem of a devotional book, Celtic Daily Prayer, may seem poignantly relevant. Member of the Northumbria Community Aidan Clarke writes: “What I believe about Jesus could not be contained in a thousand books. I believe in Jesus more than I believe in the pen with which I am writing these words. I cannot, however, expect you to believe my beliefs. Imagine you meet me in a cafe and I introduce you to a friend. I say, ‘This is Jesus.’ I do not then give you a list of things you must believe about His family and a thick book to memorize before I let you speak to Him. I don’t ask you to believe in Him- because you can see Him for yourself. I ask you only to trust Him and to get to know Him.”
Clarke speaks to the crux of what I am calling “narcissistic evangelism.” It’s no wonder that the Dan Savages of this world are turned off by Christianity when they’re implicitly told that knowing Jesus equates with simply adhering to a prescribed set of moral codes or applying every part of the Bible literally, devoid of its historical context. When we introduce Jesus to people by asking them to accept at the outset a list of beliefs about Jesus or His ethical expectations for us, we are, I think, as lost as the people we claim to be evangelizing.
I guess I’m inclined to think that our “lostness” and our “foundness” depend in any given moment on where we are standing in relation to Jesus. What do you think? Leave your reflections below.
Next, some reflections on nature and grace from this “pessimistic optimist” (to borrow Reinhold Niebuhr’s expression).