SO AS A CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICAL YOU WANNA LOVE MUSLIMS, COMMIES, & GAYS?
Congratulations – you’re loving just like Jesus if you do. Why? Because he always loved those on the fringes politically, socially, morally, philosophically, and religiously – but get ready to face backlash. Here’s the good news – it won’t come from those on the edges you are seeking to love and engage. They’ll actually be grateful and open to friendship. In their minds, they think we hate them, despise them, and want to do away with them.
The past few places I’ve spoke, I have lots of young pastors come up to me who watched the BUILDING BRIDGES event you can see on my http://WWW.GLOCAL.NET blog from SEPTEMBER 21, 2011, or they’ve heard of something I’m involved in they are all starting to get involved with people that evangelicals historically have not been involved with. Yesterday at Alex McManus’s IMN 2012 conference I was asked several times, “How do I deal with the pushback from my own tribe?” Many have started reaching out and building relationships, others want to but are afraid. It’s primarily something younger evangelical pastors are doing and a few older guys as well. Rick Warren & Joel Hunter are both hero’s of mine that have encouraged me and been good models to me of what it means to not compromise your faith and yet become friends with others outside our own tribe. What they have experienced, I have experienced in terms of criticism, and some of you have as well – and if some of you get serious about loving our “tribal rejects” you will face it as well. Sooooo, what would I say to you.
1. LOVE LIKE JESUS. Jesus loved them all – he didn’t just love them, he had some that followed him who’s reputations were morally corrupt, philosophically “challenged”, religiously outside his tribe, and lots of other stuff. He came for everyone to both show the way, and become the way. Have you ever thought about how interesting it is that we celebrate outreach to some, but ignore others? Jesus died for all of mankind if they will only accept him. Our job is to show and share the love of Jesus – there is NO DISCRIMINATION we are allowed to make in terms of showing and sharing. As a matter of fact, this is where the Gospel will make the most impact in your life. It will put you on the edge and require all of God to be in your life to accomplish this.
2. EXPECT PERSECUTION LIKE JESUS. It’s just part of it. Yes, some from the other tribe will come after you. There are times, I’ve built relationships with people from other tribes and honestly – it was frightening. Would I loose my life? But in those instances, the choices are clear, you take a deep breath with a deep prayer – and move forward. I have a friend who was in North Africa 2 weeks ago working with the new leadership in that country – and he’s an evangelical – he was there in the midst of all the turmoil. He didn’t come home, and he has a young family. I prayed for him daily. There are evangelicals all over the world putting their lives on the line – not just as preachers – but as everyday followers because of their vocations that are speaking peace and hope into systems where generally we are not. The greatest challenge here, is your own tribe and how they can vilify you, trash you, twist your words. Some of them will want to see you destroyed and in the name of God will lie, twist, – in order to do it. I experience that – I find it funny how people say things about me who don’t know me or draw conclusions. It’s actually humorous. Why do we think we follow Jesus and our tribe loves us? His tribe got really upset with him. I lean on Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great ; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. v13You are the salt of the earth . . . v.14 You are the light of the world.
3. BE A PEACEMAKER LIKE JESUS. He wasn’t a peace keeper – but a peace maker. He is the “Prince of Peace” in our New Testament. God has called us to the rough edges – it isn’t a choice – it is an obligation, duty, responsibility – the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I believe so much in church planting. Here in America we’ve now started over 175 churches. I teach them all these things. I believe just starting a worship service does little but gather our tribe to hear us pontificate. Starting a church that engages the city and the world is what matters. When we look at the world, there are so so so many other ways to see than just church planting. Building the institution can actually get in the way of the movement. IF WE DON’T CONNECT WITH THE WORLD ON THE GRID OF SOCIETY – economics, governance, art, medical, agriculture, health, etc., we are not bring peace. ONLY WHEN WE GET THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM, WILL THERE BE PEACE / TRANSFORMATION / RECONCILIATION / RESTORATION. Jesus warned us of making “converts” that are more hellacious than ourselves. Only the Kingdom of God, (righteous, love, peace) will change this world.
4. HARVEST FRUIT LIKE JESUS. When you live your life like this – over time more doors will open than you can imagine. Sometimes people think I do what I do and go where I go because I must be gifted. It isn’t true, my work globally is because of the overwhelming absence of the evangelical church from the global conversation. We are great at the religious conversation – but we have separated it from a global narrative. That isn’t possible in truly following Jesus. People will ask about Jesus, talk about Jesus, and you will show and share your faith with Jesus with people that others rarely get to. Some will follow him, and some will not – but you will love them all just the same.
I asked permission to share this email and it was granted – I’m proud of you STEVE – and I’m proud of ALL YOU YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD WHO ARE COURAGEOUSLY LOVING PEOPLE YOUR TRIBE MAY LOVE TO HATE – MOVE FORWARD – YOU ARE IN THE TRADITION OF JESUS!
AN EMAIL SENT TO ME FROM A YOUONG CHURCH PLANTER:
Over the past few weeks Mosaic has been in a series called “The Truth Between Us” (a series Erwin started last year at this time) and specifically over the past 3 weeks we have been focusing on Islam. Thankfully I have a very knowledgeable leader in Islamic studies on our staff team who has led most of our times of learning, but this past Sunday I opened the stage to allow our people to ask questions of a local business owner (who shares space with us in our rented shopping center) and the Imam of the Duncanville Islamic Center. They came and invited other Muslims (many from the Waves of Unity event that you will be speaking at in Nov). We had more people (including more Muslims) in our Gathering than any event besides Easter in the short 16 month history of Mosaic Arlington being in this location. We spoke on the Nature of Man (from both the Scriptures and the Koran) and gave our Muslim friends a chance to respond (should we have misquoted their beliefs). Then we took questions from our audiences. Too many questions came in to answer in the 30 minutes we had allotted. It was truly an amazing meeting. It was amazing. (I am forwarding you, below, an appropriate email from my music leader about the day as I feel it says best what 99% of our people were feeling last Sunday.)
After the meeting was over a young Muslim named Niddal Abedrabbo (he is on the leadership team of Waves of Unity) came up to me and said “this was the greatest day of my year.” I asked him to explain and he said the following: never had he been in a room of followers of Jesus who were so welcoming to Muslims; never had he seen Evangelical Pastors sharing the stage with Muslim Leaders; and never before had he felt God’s presence so strong in a room. This Friday he will be doing a radio interview with another friend of ours that will air on PowerFM (89.7) on how Muslims and Christians need to be better neighbors.
I write to you today to say Thank You. Without your influence none of this would’ve have happened. You invested in me personally a few years ago as we went to Georgetown together. You invest in me regularly as I read your blogs and books. . . . . Now almost 12 months later we saw the fruit of that decision. Our people know more about our Muslim friends and neighbors. We are more committed to the demonstration and proclamation of the Good News in relevant grace filled ways then ever before. And God is allowing us inroads to many influential Muslim lives because of our willingness to be known by love.
So, thank you for investing in me, and in turn our Mosaic tribe here in Arlington. We are a great faith family because of your hard work!
See you soon (I am bringing a group of Waves of Unity on 11/11)
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.