You’ve seen the signs, you’ve heard the shouts. Maybe you picked up a flyer. If you’ve walked Main Street during Thursday at the Square, you’ve seen some people who have made it abundantly clear what they believe.
The message is pretty simple, most of the time. There is something wrong with you. You are sinful. That is bad, and will result in hell. That is where you are going unless you change your mind and/or live right, say a certain prayer, etc. . . .
If you believe that God’s first concern is judgment, then such actions, though annoying, make sense. Behavior flows from theology.
Which is why I like the way a different bunch thinks and acts on Thursday night.
For Relevant Worship ministries, a movement of people organized by a local Christian band, judgment is not primary in their theology. Love is.
So when love comes first, the first action is not a shout, nor is it a sign–because it is hard to express love through a shout or a sign. It starts with a smile, a gift, an invitation.
Make no mistake, this group would still like to change the beliefs of at least some people–and that, in and of itself, will likely offend some people. Their methods, however, are servant-hood, kindness, and generosity. They believe that if they want to show people the God who proclaimed, “Love your neighbor,” then they will have to treat those people with love.
And so Relevant invites people, mostly high school students just hanging out on Main Street, to join them at the Christian Center for pizza. They share their lives, listening to and telling stories over a slice. Some of the kids share things that can be prayed for, and because love comes first, sexuality, addiction, or any of the other things that shouted about sometimes, cannot stop it.
Nobody is forced into anything (not even listening) and everybody is treated with generosity and respect.
This Thursday (today), you are invited to consider how you share your beliefs (or disbeliefs), and why (or why not) you do. Is it possible to have a discussion about faith in a public place? How do you interact with those who try to start them?
I must admit that even I try to avoid most of the people proselytizing on Main as much as I love a good argument, nothing good ever comes from it. But pizza and respectful conversation sounds good to me.
The Christian Center – 512 Pearl Street @ 8:15PM