The Irritating Aroma of Uninvited Religion



I am a Jesus-follower. My culture is koinonia. I was born and raised in church. This whole religion/ Jesus thing is not weird for me. I have been exposed to it all of my life. And one of the biggest mistakes I make when it comes to sharing Jesus is assuming that everyone else is as comfortable with him as I am.  But just a half hour ago I got a taste of what it means to be on the other side of this spectrum.

The doorbell rang. I thought it was Woollies delivering our groceries a little early but when I looked I saw two women - one old and one young - dressed in early 90's grandma fashion. It didn't take long for me to discover they were Jehovah's Witnesses. And while I smiled on the outside, on the inside I found myself extremely irritated. These ladies did not know me. They were uninvited to my home. And yet there they were confronting me with an extremely personal, sensitive, and emotional element of the human experience - religion. I didn't want them there, but there they were, and all I could think was how soon can this whole thing be over? They said they would come back to talk some more. I politely said "sure" mostly because I just wanted them to leave. But my mind said the opposite to my lips: I don't want you to come back and the next time this doorbell rings I am going to hide. Of course, with two super loud kids running around this house that will be impossible. This makes their future visit even more dreadful.

And then it hit me. I am a Jesus-follower. My culture is koinonia. I was born and raised in church. This whole religion/ Jesus thing is not weird for me. I have been exposed to it all of my life. And if I find the aroma of uninvited religion irritating, how much more will those who do not share my back-ground? Those who hate religion. Those who are indifferent toward it. Or those who experience anxiety every time the topic is raised. What about those who have been hurt by it? Those who have been betrayed, bruised, and ostracized by other Christians? Will they not experience the same dreadful emotions I experienced? I think its safe to say, yes.

Now don't get me twisted. Jesus confronts us. He is not comfortable. He is not safe. He is a lion. But we must never forget that he is also a lamb and harmless as a dove. He doesn't seek to devour, he seeks to redeem. As such, we must share Jesus in a way that does not automatically awaken dreadful emotions and the proverbial fight-or-flight mechanism. If Jesus alone is challenging enough then we should not add to the struggle by sharing him in unpalatable ways. Instead, we should bend over backwards to make sure we are not making the journey to him more difficult for those who don't share our "church culture".

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