The start of a conversation
A few months into our training, as we were discussing a philosophy Skype-lecture of a professor at the Sanskrit College in Mysore, India, our instructor made a statement that impacted me profoundly:
We get into problems when we need others to honor and personally receive our religious perspective as true.
Some Christians may discount this statement, claiming that to agree with it would mean fully agreeing with a contrary religious perspective. But this is not what the above statement is actually communicating. It’s rather a statement of personal security in one’s own beliefs. Belief is an incredible driving force for me personally. It’s imperative that everything I put my energy toward aligns with what I believe. But, if I’m not careful, I can also need everyone around me to validate those beliefs. The devastating product of this mindset is isolation from anyone who doesn’t share my perspective or beliefs. That doesn’t seem like the way forward. What I need is to consistently quiet my heart before my creator and receive his validation [Proverbs 18:10].
Light of the world [read light in our world]
I am a follower of Jesus. His invitation to me when we first began walking together was to follow him wherever he goes. So I am following him. He describes me [and anyone who follows him] as light in this world, just as he came as light into our experience. His invitation to his followers is not to be hidden, but rather, to bring light to all places he leads us. And here I find myself. He has led me to this group of wonderful people and he has given me the opportunity to be part of a conversation. So I am asking the question. What does it look like to carry the light given to me by Jesus amidst the philosophical and religious conversation?
This brings me back to the comment of my teacher — We get into problems when we need others to honor and personally receive our religious perspective as truth. The moment of dialogue around faith and religious belief is where Christian culture typically exits the conversation [either emotionally or literally]. This exit may take the form of shrinking back from what others may think of a particular belief or through the form of laying out a biblical truth that unapologetically voids any experience or belief outside a very specific Christian worldview.
What is our message?
My speech and my message, communicates the Apostle Paul, were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
What would it look like for us, as Jesus followers, to enter the philosophical and religious conversation with love, truth, and the Spirit’s power? It’s the power of the Spirit that changes the heart of a person. It is the spirit of God that brings someone into true experiential knowledge of himself. We are but light, the compass pointing toward truth.
There is a philosophical conversation happening on the world stage. Who is God? Does God exist? Does God love me? Jesus has given light and understanding to these questions. He has given his followers his light, his understanding. But are we participating in the conversation or are we elbowing for room to be heard? Are we honoring the journey and the spiritual searching of those whom God has set in our path? Have we earned the right to be heard? Are we even communicating in a language that others can connect with?
Have we entered a conversation? Or started a classroom lecture?
Jesus said, if anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink. We have the incredible opportunity to embody this reality. But while we may be speaking, are we communicating? Maybe we are communicating, but is anyone listening? Have we actually entered into a conversation, or are we just blasting through biblical information? What would it look like for Jesus followers to enter into conversation through friendship and trust, love and respect? What would it look like to wade into the questions, hopes, fears, struggles of another human being as friends? Not as enemies, not as projects, not as evangelists, not as prophets, and not as pastors.
Any of this resonate? I’d love to continue the conversation and hear your thoughts.
Oh yeah, and if you resonate with this article, consider joining the conversation more regularly! I send out a super helpful [I think it’s helpful] short email with  highlights of content over the last month [or so], my 5-things email — meaningful content for the religiously disillusioned [or spiritually tired] seeking to practically and authentically follow Jesus in real life.