Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Love Bomb.

Whenever I see someone essentially say that they aren't going to evangelize to a person (preach about Jesus), but rather just express the love of Christ to the person, I end up interpreting that sentence in the following way:

"I, the Christian, am loving you in order to get something out of you."

Essentially, the love has an ulterior motive. The Christian is hoping that the way s/he lives their life, or interacts with unbelievers, will be done in such a way as to make the unbeliever want what the believer has.

I can't help but find that to be a manipulative motive for loving a person. The intention is to produce a very specific result: get the unbeliever interested enough to make the unbeliever convert.

I don't get the same reaction if someone says that they love humanity because God created people, or they love others because of how much God loved them, and so how can they not express that love to everyone else?

I'd even prefer in your face evangelizing to the "convert them through love" approach. At least the former is being forthwright about his/her intentions. And while I doubt that every single Christian who has done the latter approach sees it as a backdoor approach (or maybe they do), it's also incredibly ... it's almost deceptive, in a way. The Christian is still trying to convince the unbeliever to convert, on some level.

16 comments:

Lorena said...

Right! Why can't we just love for the sake of it? Isn't that the greatest kind of love?

And to think that many Christians believe outsiders don't love anyone. How wrong they are. Not only do non-religious love an awful lot, but we do in the most sincere way, expecting little but, perhaps, a little friendship.

The Christian "love" is a lie, as proven by the fact that the same folks who fawn on you when they're trying to convert you don't give you the time of day once you are in "the net."

Bruce said...

We ought to love people for their own sake not because of what we hope to get out of them.

This is a common problem in Church. When attending a particular Church everyone is your friend. Stop attending and see how many friends you have.

I try and have no secret agenda. I want to be a good neighbor. If in the course of being a good neighbor religion comes up..........then fine. I have one neighbor who brings it up all the time. But......when her husband is around.......he quickly wants the talk on another channel. that's fine.

When I die I want to be known as a good man, a good neighbor.

Lorena is quite right about love. Only "Christians can know true love" . How said then............most of the world lives and dies without ever knowing true love. There is something very wrong with this picture.

Bruce

OneSmallStep said...

Lorena,

**Why can't we just love for the sake of it? Isn't that the greatest kind of love?**

I would think so, yes. It would be the most selfless kind of love.

OneSmallStep said...

Bruce,

**When attending a particular Church everyone is your friend. Stop attending and see how many friends you have.**

It's almost like they loved you for what you were, rather than who you were.

**When I die I want to be known as a good man, a good neighbor.**
And I think those are great goals.

**How said then............most of the world lives and dies without ever knowing true love. There is something very wrong with this picture.**

And I don't think that's supported through personal experience. In a lot of ways, there is no external difference in behavior between Christians and non-Christians. If only Christians knew true love, shouldn't there be?

Sarge said...

One must wonder about that type of "love", no mistake.

The man I used to train horses for had a fund of saws and expressions he'd use, a day like today he'd say, "It's cold as charity..."

That's the temperature of "agape" which is tendered to the church goer.

I remember when my father was a deacon and we would go to church business meetings. Fruit could be stored indefinitly in the temperature of that type of "love".

the chaplain said...

**When attending a particular Church everyone is your friend. Stop attending and see how many friends you have.**

It's almost like they loved you for what you were, rather than who you were.


That goes double - maybe triple - if you're a pianist or organist. I was speaking with a friend of mine recently (former choir director at my old church, quit about the same time I did) and she asked me, "Did you ever feel like a piece of meat?"

My answer: an emphatic, "YES!"

Pastor Bob said...

A somewhat different perspective. Being a Calvinist I believe that the Holy Spirit converts the heart of a person. Now that doesn't relieve the Christian of the responsibility of evangelism. But evangelism should be done with love, loving the person as Jesus loves the person. That means hearing the other. Jesus loved whether the other came to faith in him or not. So should Christians.

As to loving others Christians should love others simply 1. because they are created in the image of God and 2. because Jesus commanded them to love others. Love is not a technique for evangelism. It is simply love.

Of course love may result in conversion. But that is not the purpose.

Zoe said...

Anybody ever read that book, Friendship Evangelism?

We had seminars in church about it and formed groups to study it, in order to come along side the unbeliever or a person of other faiths, and win them to Christ through friendship. Basically the same thing as loving them into the fold.

For the most part, whether obvious or not, for a Christian, it's always going to be about Christ and if you don't have Christ, they know it. Christians have the answer and if you don't have Christ they see you as not having the answer.

By whatever means possible, they will want to point you to "the" answer, according to their beliefs.

I agree that the friendship/love thing does smack of manipulation. Sort of an under-cover evangelical operation. 'Maybe if we do it like this, they won't notice.'

It is easier to be hit over the head with a Bible and told to repent or face hell. No mincing words with that approach and it leaves no doubt as to the evangelists intent. :-)

As well, if you reject the Bible thumper, he/she goes away expecting it. It's part of their experience. Their job is to hit you between the eyes with "the" truth and if you don't listen, it's not their problem.

Now, if you reject the Christian who tries to love you to Christ, well, I think the after-math of that experience is going to be tough for the Christian. They'll feel more of a failure I would think and that leaves them vulnerable to doubting themselves as adequate friends with "love" that apparently didn't measure up.

Just some thoughts along the way.

steve martin said...

I've never met a pure motive, yet.

OneSmallStep said...

Pastor Bob,

Random question not entirely related to my post, and not meant sarcastically. One of the things that confuses me about this idea in Calvinism -- the Holy Spirit converts the person -- is why is Christian evangelizing even necessary? Because it kind of seems like the Holy Spirit can only convert people if the evangelizing by the Christian is done first. So then isn't the Christian somewhat responsible for the conversion as well?

Pastor Bob said...

Maybe a better way to put it would be that the Christian is the means by which the Holy Spirit acts.

OneSmallStep said...

Zoe,

I haven't, but it almost sounds like a mild-mannered attack manual. :)

**Their job is to hit you between the eyes with "the" truth and if you don't listen, it's not their problem.**

This is one of the many things that scares me about absolute certainty. There is this near lack of ability for self-analyzation, in trying to determine why the person is pushed away. The certainty leads the person to just "know" that the unsaved hates God/Jesus/good or just doesn't want to relinquish his/her hoarde of darkness.

**They'll feel more of a failure I would think and that leaves them vulnerable to doubting themselves as adequate friends with "love" that apparently didn't measure up.**

That is not something I've considered before. However, would their sense of failure be tied up in the fact that someone didn't become saved? Or would the sense of failure be tied up in the fact that the unsaved felt that the Christian was manipulative/actually unloving? Because if the Christian felt rejected due to the former, I'm wondering if they'd get the connection to the first type of evangelism.

Zoe said...

OSS,

In my past experience, results in not winning people over had many excuses.

The unbeliever:

They were too sinful, blind, cold, hard heart etc.

Christ had turned them over to Satan.

The believer:

There must be sin in the believers life that blocks their evangelism and efforts to win others to Christ.

They must be spiritually weak, having too much doubt, not prayed enough, studied enough, tithed enough etc.

The sense of failure I had in mind though is that, the believer feels and is often told they are spiritually weak if they are unsuccessful.

OneSmallStep said...

Pastor Bob,

**Maybe a better way to put it would be that the Christian is the means by which the Holy Spirit acts.**

I almost wonder if there'd be more conversions if the Holy Spirit found a "better" method of acting. ;)

OneSmallStep said...

Zoe,

I rather like how the answer blames everyone else.

**The sense of failure I had in mind though is that, the believer feels and is often told they are spiritually weak if they are unsuccessful.**

Can the two reasons be true at the same time? Because it doesn't seem like it -- can Christ both give the unbeliever over to Satan and the believer be spiritually weak? I think that no matter how strong the believer is, Christ gets the final say.

Sarge said...

I can't help notice all the "offers" that are tendered when I go for a cancer treatment or to the support circle. The same with the young'uns I see when I go to the reconstructive surgery clinic.

Lots of offers of "Christian love".

When such as I say, "Thanks, but no thanks" we get a different expression of "love".