I've talked before about how I believe that doing what I call the works of God helps to authenticate the message of God. I would count things like taking care of orphans and widows, loving neighbors and enemies, living within a community of people dedicated to loving and serving one another and the world as works of God. In my own life, I would also see working hard to help the community find justice and protect people from oppression as something that falls right in line with God's character of loving justice, which also serves to authenticate the message of God.
So I haven't been surprised when, as I have conversations about spirituality and my own relationship with God that these are the things that people who are not Christians appreciate about the way I live my life. I have not been surprised that they sometimes want to communicate a deep respect for those activities and the kind of person that God has made me. Now they would never put those words around it of course--they usually give me the credit instead of God. But that always gives me the opportunity to share that it really is God working in me that allows me to do what I do even in the midst of struggle or even when I don't see the results that I would want to.
What's been surprising to me is actually that I'm finding more affirmation and acceptance and even love from people outside the church than I ever did from those inside. The person I am becoming because of God's transformative power in my life is inherently attractive to many people outside of the church. They want to spend time with me. It's kind of shocking, particularly in light of how on the fringes I always felt within a church community.
And the funny thing is that my values and activities and actions don't necessarily match the people's who appreciate who I am. I am still very much living counter-culturally and marching to the beat of my own drum, as it were. I suppose the reality is that I'm also living counter-culturally to the culture of the general West Michigan church. But inside the church that life creates controversy or discomfort. Outside it appears to be intriguing and somewhat attractive. I wonder why that is.