Last week I was privileged to take a little trip up to Colorado with my brother-in-law, Bret. We spent a couple of days in the mountains fishing and hiking, then joined up with the Granbury COC youth group as they worked with the Sevens ministry. This ministry works with homeless and runaway teenagers in Boulder, Colorado and runs a summer program called Sabbath. This week long experience takes teenagers on a journey that begins with disconnecting and ends with re-connecting with the forgotten. The last few days are pretty simple: have conversations with and pray over the hurting and forgotten on the streets of Boulder.
On the last day, Benny challenged us to have conversations with folks and find an opportunity to pray over someone, regardless of what their beliefs were. That is not to say that we forced what we believed on those we spoke with. Rather, our goal was for people to know God’s love through us and thus not be threatened by people who believed differently than us.
Because, especially on these streets, Christianity isn’t the “faith-de’jour” like it is at home in the bible belt. And, it can be quite unnerving to have a conversation about faith with a pagan or a wicken. It is so easy to be on the defensive because we have been taught to “defend our faith”.
While there is nothing wrong with defending what we believe, we will take that notion and enter any interaction with a person with different beliefs in a defensive posture. This posture is especially hard to shake for those of us in the bible belt. Down here we live in a culture that is saturated by church and Christianity so we don’t often have a lot of contrary views (or at least out right rejection of God) to our own. So, when we do encounter people who outright reject God, we don’t know what to do with it.
So with that, read Jesus’ words on this idea:
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” – John 12:46-47
Read it again and make sure you don’t miss what Jesus is saying.
First of all, he comes to bring light. And, there is something interesting about light: It will not discern on whom it falls. That is, light doesn’t discriminate on who it serves. It just brings, I guess…..light.
In fact, he doesn’t even say that you have to agree with the light. But the end of this passage is crucial: even Jesus did not come to judge. He came to save.
So how are we to be any different than Christ in this matter? Yes, there are things in this world that sicken us. Yet, we are called to be “light-bearers” in the darkness. We bring the light.
Today, live as light and don’t worry about the judging part.
Just bring the light.