A state of mind...

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"Punk is not really a style of music. It was more like a state of mind." Mike Watt

It's offensive to be pursued simply because someone wants to make you think like they think. Do you feel loved and cared about after someone knocks on your door and hands you some religous pamphlets? Every once in a while, maybe someone feels loved that way. But most of us want real relationships. We want to think that people love us for us, not because they are trying to make us into clones of themselves.

I remember eleven or twelve years ago when we used to go to Mardi Gras in Louisiana. We'd bring a bunch of thick socks and McDonalds coupons for the street kids (they loved it!) and then we'd hang out with them and/or play music on the street corner. We'd also put up a little table that said, "Free Lit," and people would come up and take home-made papers and poems and accompanying art work that we'd lovingly written ourselves just for them.

I looked like a punk at that time, having met Jesus while in the alternative underground scene---shaved hair, big clunky Doc's, metal sticking out of my nose---and it was always SO annoying how many times I'd get tracted. Christians would come up non-stop and hand me tracts and ask me if I knew Jesus. When I'd smile in friendship and say, "Yes," they'd squint their eyes in disbelief and tell me to prove it. It was SO annoying to be constantly handed mass-produced pieces of paper by people who wouldn't even listen to me when I told them I was on their side. The bottom line is that they weren't on my side, meaning, the message came across loud and clear that it wasn't me they cared about, it was my conversion to their side. There was VERY little love floating around in the air, and it didn't take a genius to feel that.

I got a really good lesson about what it feels like to be on the recieving end of a mass-evangelism effort, and if I hadn't already been following Jesus, I know it would have only served to turn me off that much more.

I obviously don't think it's a good idea to *not* tell people about Jesus. I mean, that's why we went to Mardi Gras ourselves. But even now, now that I don't look like a punk rocker and now that my husband is a minister in a conservative church, this idea of, "Get 'em in here," (meaning into our church buildings) STILL drives me nuts, versus a mindset that says, "Let's go hang with them out there."

I guess because Jesus went out there. And they LOVED Him. It was obvious to them that He wasn't mechanically "trying to evangelize," but rather was with them, hanging out in their homes and having dinner with a pile of people that the religous community shunned, because He LOVED them. But so many times, we are known for handing out tracts or doing other non-relational low-demand (meaning, demanding much from them but little from ourselves) things--- all to get 'em in onto OUR turf, where WE are comfortable, where WE feel at home---and so that we don't have to step into their dirty "sinful" stomping grounds.

If you haven't already heard these, I recommend this series of podcasts by Mike Frost for more thinking along these lines.

Molly