It just so happens that I had coffee with a new friend today. He reached out to me four months ago, asking if he could meet me some time. He labels himself as an atheist, but if I were the one doing the labeling I would label him a searcher. At any rate, after four months of attempted conversations we finally had the chance to meet face to face today and just talk.
I can tell by his colorful Facebook posts that there is so much that we would disagree about. But I wasn’t dissuaded from trying to meet one more time. I didn’t really want to talk about our disagreements, I simply wanted to hear his story.
So as we sat, me with a cup of coffee, him with a mango peach smoothie, I asked him to tell me his story. As he shared I learned quickly that he had experienced so much bad from “christians” that he ultimately ran hard and fast away from anything having to do with Christianity. I’m sure there’s more he didn’t share. While we talked I was reminded of Mahatma Gandhi who said,
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians, Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
I thought later today about another friend, who comes in to the shop at least once a week. He professes to be a Christian, and I truly believe He is, but His demeanor, His actions, His equally hard exterior leaves one wondering, “What’s wrong with him?” I try to be kind, extend a warm hand shake and from time to time a chill bro hug, but sometimes even I wonder “Does this guy hate me or what?” I only know a little of his story as well, but I know enough to know that he has experienced a significant amount of hurt by other “christians,” and I believe its that hurt that has left him cold, distant, unapproachable yet still wearing the label, “christian.”
I’m left to ask, “What have we done?” How is it that we who are supposed to be the most loving, the most kind, the most welcoming, the most merciful, the most grace-ful, have hurt so many others? Rather than building a Kingdom, spreading good news, we have left so much scorched earth in our wake. I don’t have an answer. I may not for a long time.
My new friend messaged me later today and said he would like to come to our church on Sunday, but asked if I thought the people there would judge him if they knew the real him. I answered him honestly, “we’re not perfect” but I’m pretty confident he will leave feeling more loved than he ever has before.
I hope he comes. But if, per chance, he should come to your church, dear Christian brother or sister, I pray He meets a Christian who is truly like our Christ.