Yesterday I was graced with a quintessential meeting with a couple of missionary guys in the cafeteria of my campus…
I know, right?… graced?? Ha ha
To be honest, I did get a little indigestion from the experience. ;D
But as I’ve journaled this morning about the experience, I am left with a feeling of deep gratitude.
Somehow, the contrast of the Gospel they teach (as lovely as they truly believe it is) really reminded me of the Gospel that I love. There is nothing as wonderful as being reminded of the good news. The things I love so much about God. I’m just so thankful.
My first question was, “where are you from/ who are you with?” (It helps to give you some understanding from the start.)
In typical missionary form, they seemed to try to dodge answering that question, which I’m still confused about… like… never mind. There isn’t really time to go there. Ha ha
They started off asking if they could pull up chairs and talk to me about my spiritual beliefs.
*my stomach immediately clenches* “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”
…But I accepted. And I’m glad I did.
We started with “Who is Jesus?” to which I answered that I’m still trying to figure that one out. But I think I ended up being reminded of what I believe about Jesus through the convo.
We went on to talk about how He saves us from hell and it’s a free gift, all you have to do is believe/accept it. (Just for some context, I’m a Universalist. I don’t believe in an eternal hell or just about any of the things fundamental Christianity harps on. I do, however, love Jesus.)
You see, darkness cannot exist around light (which my evangelist friends reminded me of several times) But the point should not be that God can’t be around darkness, but that darkness is obliterated around God’s light. This is what we saw when Jesus touched unclean people and they were immediately HEALED…
How did that exemplary life of Christ turn into a theology that says He can’t be around you if you’re in sin?? It’s bizarre.
I must confess, I gave them a run for their money. I challenged just about every statement they made, not because I love to debate (believe me, I hate it), but because I care so much about the good news.
Over all, what has really stuck with me since the talk was the self-hate so many Christians teach, demonstrate and are consumed by. Both of these guys emphasized over and over how terrible and unworthy of forgiveness they are… That they deserve eternal torment in hell. In essence, that we all do.
This is a mindset far too familiar to me. As a struggling young Christian I carried that flag when I was in Bible College. I tried to uphold it into missions… though, once I began to truly love “the other” it became much harder to swallow…
I can still remember a phone conversation I had with my Mom while I was at Bible College. I had a lot of judgement towards her (and probably for everyone I knew, tbh, no less for myself) at that point in my life. In that conversation she was brave enough to challenge this concept that everyone is fundamentally broken. She said that people are generally good, while I was believing that people are generally evil AF.
I still remember the way I would weep in every other worship service, often confusing God’s grace and my wretchedness…love and shame. It’s such a blurred line in conservative Christian culture. Self-hate is not a stranger to me, nor is it to most people who have grown up in Evangelical circles.
It hurt my heart to see these young men saying these things about themselves, beloved children of God.
I stopped the younger guy at one point, looked him straight in the eyes and said,
“You know, you’re not as evil as you think you are.”
If it weren’t so sad, it would have been funny how much they both physically reacted to that statement… They squirmed, taken aback. Whether they knew it or not, my statement went against their most fundamental belief, what everything hinges upon. That we’re all despicable to God. (without Jesus) That God cannot be in the presence of sin.
We went on talking in circles for a while after that. At the end, one of the guys asked if he could pray for me.
This is always the hardest part for me… There’s something so vulnerable about choosing to pray with a person who clearly thinks you’re a lost sinner or who pities you.
This is the part, when I choose to engage with evangelists, that is the hard, unbeatable, type of love… The part that takes work. But I chose to, in that moment, see them as brothers, not because of their religion, but because of our shared humanity, our shared Creator, our shared divinity.
I was shocked by the humble and genuine prayers.
I was even more shocked that I could accept them… Then I prayed for them, when they finished. Whatever theology or lifestyle they choose for themselves, that’s not the point, I prayed for them to know God’s unconditional steadfast love for them.
For us all.
THIS was the good news that saved me from the death of fundamentalism. And it was my heart to share that with them and with you all today.
We’re not to be loved despite how terrible we are… We are loved because we are good creations. All of us.