Thursday, September 23, 2010

Christianity was forced on you?

The other day, I read a facebook friend's status that said in part "I had Christianity forced on me". I have been contemplating these words since and these are my thoughts that resulted.

The Christian faith is about hope and joy. When it is understood, there is no need to force it on anyone. With the faith, you are talking about a love so strong that countless people throughout history have been willing to peacefully give up their lives in witness to it. This type of response cannot be forced.

I do not claim that Christians never try to force the faith on people. However, there is no teaching in the faith that would lead someone to do this. Rather, it is quite the opposite. If we read the Gospels we will learn that Christ never forced Himself on anyone. He said what he had to say or did what he had to do and moved on. The people around him were free to believe and follow or not. As an example see John 6:66-68. Many of His disciples leave Him because they cannot accept what He says. He even asks his closest companions, The Twelve, if they also want to leave. The men He chose to establish His church were free to leave at any time. Why should it be forced on you?

Further still, when Jesus sends his disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God he tells them how to respond to people who refuse to listen. He doesn't say, flog them until they believe. He doesn't say pester them until they give in. Rather in Mark 6:10-11 He says ..."leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."

Until this particular facebook status caused me to reflect on this passage, I would have simply thought this was a "well, fine then" type of thing. I see it differently now. I believe the disciples would have expected to be judged by their results. How many souls did they win? As a result, they may have been disposed to keep coming at the people who rejected them instead of moving on.

So rather than "well fine then", I think in Mark 6:10-11 that Jesus is telling us, you do your part which is to proclaim the Good News. If someone accepts you, good. If not, rest assured, you have done your part. You can leave them be. He only holds us accountable for our part. So we do not need to desperately force this Good News on anyone. We must simply say what needs to be said and move on. Just like the Master.

These are just a couple of examples of how Christians are taught to respond to people who reject them. In the end, I guess what I am trying to say is that if Christianity was forced on you the problem was with the person not the religion.