"I don't really care what people think about predestination or baptism or salvation. The church doesn't know how to love. I think we should be focused on that."
Regardless of what you think about the theology of this statement, it's something to consider. One of the biggest issues people have with the church is how it treats people. One of the biggest issues I have with the church is how it treats people.
In John 13:35, Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Is it really a surprise, then, that people use the question of love to evaluate the truth of the church's or individuals' beliefs?
This seems to be one of the most common barriers to faith. What we do is so much more important than what we say. That doesn't mean that we don't need to put words around what we believe. It simply means that what we do has the power to authenticate or detract from what we say we believe.
I don't think that I'm saying anything new here. But it's amazing how disconnected what we say we believe and what we actually do has the ability to become. In some ways, our faith communities contribute to this by creating the expectation that spirituality happens on Sunday and doesn't affect the rest of the week.
What does it actually mean to love the people around us? What does it mean to love the "least of these" or our most vulnerable populations?
I once saw a news show about Rick Warren's wife. She was explaining her humanitarian work in Africa, and she was able to share the story of how she became interested in this work. It was amazing. After seeing so much skepticism in the media about the things that Christians say and do, this interviewer was basically speechless. She couldn't make fun of what Kay Warren was doing. She couldn't despise it. She had to respect it because it was making a real difference in a real way.
As I participate in this church planting team and as we prepare to become the kind of community that we hope to be, this is something that we have been talking about a lot. How do we create a culture of love and care? How does your community intentionally love one another and the world?