The Everyday as a Proclamation

As a teenager and a young adult, I read a lot of Christian biographies that set my heart on fire. Hudson Taylor, Henry Martyn, Amy Carmichael, Jim Elliot, Isobel Kuhn, William Borden… My role models all sacrificed normalcy – in relationships, in health, in finances – and many even gave up their lives, for the sake of the gospel. None lived the average life. I wanted that – to live a life above the ordinary; to make a difference. With those biographies as my only reference, I thought the one way to achieve this was through denial of a normal lifestyle, great sacrifices and extraordinary acts of service. What I have been learning since then is that God does his greatest work in ordinary settings, through normal lives. In the everyday, in small circles, in little things. That, as Sarah Bessey puts it, “all of our lives are a proclamation”:

One soul is as valuable as thousands, millions. One soul is as important as ninety-nine, worth leaving behind everything to rescue. If there is one soul in your care, one face in your loving gaze, one hand you are holding, then you are still holding the world. The work you do today, the love you give and receive and lavish on the seemingly small people and tasks – all of these “little” things are tipping the scales of justice and mercy in our world. Everything we do from the mundane to the glamorous to the difficult and all points between can testify.

I believe all of our lives are a proclamation.

Sarah Bessey, Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

The Fruit of Threats

It might be tempting to use the coronavirus (same as “the rapture” or “hell”) as a scare tactic to get people to turn to God. But it won’t work. I’ve prayed many a prayer inspired by fear over the years, and let me say, zero stars. First off, because fear does not put people into a frame of mind where sane, healthy decisions are made. Second, because God does not manipulate us with fear, he draws us with love.

To further explain, I’ll quote my Mennonite friend Ryan Dueck, who wrote this after going to a Christian funeral service that was used “for the Gospel”:

‘Not a single soul has ever been saved through violence; it is impossible for salvation to come by force. You can force people to “convert” or to mumble a few words, perhaps. You can force people to be baptized or to recite certain prayers or whatever. But this is all fiddling with externals. Force is utterly useless when it comes to actually changing human hearts and minds. Violence can make people fall in line but it can’t touch the soul.

In the same way, it’s impossible to frighten someone into loving God. Even with death. You can stand up in front of a group of people and wag your finger and tell them that death is coming for them. You can talk about hell and Satan and renouncing this or that worldly pleasure or performing this or that religious duty. You can hold before people the most severe and dreary theology imaginable and you can probably even convince them (and yourself) that it’s true. But none of this is likely to move someone one step closer toward the love that God actually desires. Love is not the sort of thing that you can be scolded into. Obedience, maybe. Duty, respect (of a sort), compliance, conformity. Probably. But not love.

To produce love you need a different set of tools. Actually, maybe just one. Love requires, well, LOVE.’

Original article: Warning Signs

La impotencia de la amenaza

Puede resultar tentador utilizar el coronavirus (igual que “el rapto” o “el infierno”) como táctica del miedo para conseguir que la gente se vuelva a Dios. Pero dará cero resultado, y lo dice una que ha hecho muchas oraciones inspiradas en el temor a lo largo de su vida. CERO RESULTADO.

Para explicar lo que quiero decir con esto, cito a mi amigo menonita Ryan Dueck, que hizo esta reflexión después de asistir a un funeral cristiano en el que se aprovechó la ocasión para “el evangelio”:

‘Ni un alma se ha salvado mediante coacción. La salvación no funciona por la fuerza. Se le puede forzar a la gente a “convertirse” o, quizá, a mascullar unas cuantas palabras. Se le puede obligar a bautizarse o a recitar ciertas oraciones. Pero todo eso es perder el tiempo con superficialidades. La fuerza resulta totalmente inútil cuando se trata de cambiar los corazones y las mentes humanas. La coacción puede conseguir que la gente siga las reglas, pero no puede tocar el alma.

Asimismo, es imposible asustar a la gente para que ame a Dios. Ni siquiera con la muerte. Puedes ponerte en pie ante un grupo de gente y señalar con el dedo y decirles que la muerte viene a por ellos. Puedes hablarles del infierno y de Satanás, o acerca de renunciar a este o aquel placer pecaminoso, o cumplir con este o aquel deber religioso. Puedes presentarles la teología más severa y deprimente imaginable, y probablemente incluso les puedas convencer (a ellos y a ti mismo). Pero nada de ello impulsará a nadie a dar un paso hacia el amor que Dios realmente desea. El amor no es algo que se consigue mediante reconvenciones. La obediencia, tal vez. El deber, el respeto (de cierto tipo), la sumisión, la conformidad… seguramente. Pero no el amor.

Para producir amor hacen falta otras herramientas. O quizá solo una. Para el amor hace falta … AMOR.’

Artículo original: https://ryandueck.com/2016/06/08/warning-signs/