one would think that spending most of my time with people who don't share my faith might weaken or dilute my faith.
the opposite is true.
filling my life with conversations with people who don't claim Jesus has had a very interesting effect: my faith has been affirmed, so very affirmed.
this is surprising because, before this season of life, i spent most of my life with very few significant relationships with those outside of the church. no one ever told me to be afraid, but i was, a bit. i was afraid of being in a place where i would be judged and rejected, and where everything i held most dear would be mocked.
i fear no more.
sure, i am not completely un-mocked, un-judged, and un-rejected, but the discomfort, the pain, even, is nothing, really, compared to the relief i feel, knowing that i can really belong to truly secular communities.
Jesus lived as though every person was worth seeing and loving. i say i serve Jesus, and that means i serve people. i connect with something inside of me that says that my well-being should be inextricably bound up in the well-being of other humans, any other human that it is within my sphere to impact - be they a friend, co-worker, or a poor farmer on a continent i may never visit.
when i connect with other people, even people who generally avoid christians like the plague, and when we discover that we're really not that different - we share that concern for the friend, the co-worker, and the poor farmer - my faith is affirmed. i was created to love, and so were they. they might not see it that way, but they inspire me because their compassion makes them more faithful followers of Christ than some people who claim His name.
sometimes i think, as christians, we lose the forest for the trees. we concentrate too much on the means, and not enough on the end. if we lift our gaze just a bit, to what it is that we're really trying to bring to pass, we might lock eyes with others who are looking there too, others with whom we never expected to share anything. and isn't that what Jesus did? share with the unexpected?
*therefore, i urge you brothers, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but give those around you a chance to surprise and inspire you. let us allow ourselves to think that we might just have as much to learn as we do to offer, when it comes to our exchanges with the "outside world."
*Paul wont mind the plagiarism, I'm sure :)