Wednesday, 21 September 2016

"But for the grace of God..."

     The founder of the Salvation Army, walking the streets of London one night, happened upon a drunk lying in the gutter. Instead of 'avoiding' (like the first two travellers in the story of the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:25-37) he exclaimed, 'But for the grace of God there go I.'

with friends celebrating a wedding
     Jimmy Dodd, in his book "Survive or Thrive" identifies some of the challenges for those involved in the 'ministry' (pastors, missionaries, etc.). He states, "We don't primarily connect with people because they might become Christians; we primarily connect with people because they have been created in the image of God. If we chiefly serve because we long for our friends to share our belief in the gospel of Jesus, the friendship has no basis. However, if we serve others because they have been created in the image of God, the basis of our friendship cannot be destroyed."

     I have long ago decided not to treat people like 'projects', where I have certain outcomes in mind for them, and my willingness to 'like' them, or engage with them, is conditioned on a response to these goals on their part. I can distinctly remember telling someone that I still wanted to be his friend, EVEN if we didn't agree on a lot of stuff (Chihuahua). One of my biggest complements happened when he was standing in his front yard, holding a 1 litre beer bottle, and he didn't hide it when he saw me coming! Why would this be a complement? He knew that I don't drink, but he also knew that I accepted him, and didn't judge him based on whether he drank or not. I could accept him as he was, independent of whether I approved or participated in a similar activity or not.
with friends in Queretaro
     As Dodd says, "Community is weakened when we form friendships around conditionally based behaviours that were not a part of God's original creation. Our initial state wasn't that we were sinners, but that we were created in His image... therefore, everyone is created in the image of God and is therefore worthy of our respect, our love, and our service....because God loved the world, we, too, should love the world. This is the true basis of true community."


-submitted  by Ernie Koop

3 comments:

  1. Just thought I'd let you know that at least one person reads your blog. Also, I really like this blog and what you said in it.

    "We don't primarily connect with people because they might become Christians; we primarily connect with people because they have been created in the image of God. If we chiefly serve because we long for our friends to share our belief in the gospel of Jesus, the friendship has no basis. However, if we serve others because they have been created in the image of God, the basis of our friendship cannot be destroyed."

    That is quite a powerful quote. In my time in Uganda I saw a lot of people treat other people as 'projects', it was quite terrible, and I feel like they rarely got the 'results' they wanted when they did. Thanks for sharing this today, it's a great reminder for me.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Ian! This has been a work in progress, but I am definitely much more comfortable with the idea of respecting people as image bearers, and loving them as people, as friends, even though I long to see them come to a personal relationship with Christ. In the end it means that their response toward the gospel doesn't change my friendship, or my acceptance of them. God doesn't just see us as 'projects', He wants to have a relationship with us. Thanks again for your thoughts. Much appreciated! (Ernie)

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