Dwelling with Non-Christians

Darrin Patrick

Preliminary Questions:

Do you love non-Christians? Do you have good friends that are far from God? Is your heart broken consistently for lost people?

Romans 10:15 – It is your job to realize that you have been sent. He wants to take away excuses for why we are not reaching the lost and propel us to go out and accomplish our task of evangelism.

God is the first missionary in that he pursues fallen humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Genesis 12 (Walt Kaiser calls this the Great Commission of the OT). The seed promised to Abraham is Jesus. Matthew 4, Jesus links evangelism, discipleship, and mission together (cf. chapter 28:18-20). John 17 teaches us that we are in the world but not of as we try to reach the world.

John 1 is the seminal chapter on incarnational ministry. An example is Zacchaeus where Jesus tells him that he wants to stay at his house. He doesn’t just tell him a message but lives out his mission in his home.

1Cor 5:9ff – it’s assumed that you will and must dwell with unbelievers. The problem Paul is addressing has to do with not dwelling with those who are sexually perverse and call themselves “Christian.”

There are opportunities for being around non-Christians: Tailgating, pay-per-view events, happy hour, video game times, basketball at the gym, a hobby (photography). “Theology at the Bottle Works” is a mercy ministry of The Journey in St.. Louis. You are not going to happen to step into personal evangelism, you have to be intentional in it. (1Cor 9; Acts 13; 14; 17 – Paul went to places with the purpose of sharing the Gospel story with Jews and Greeks). Get involved in people’s lives. If someone is terminally ill, find out about their illness through study of what they have. If someone is a “foody” find out about the fine dining culture. Essentially, care about people enough to take interest in their interests.

Recommendation: Becky Pieppert books. The problem with Christians is that we don’t know how to be ourselves.

The Seeker movement has rightly challenged us to think through missional worship. That is, helping people understand what is happening in the service (keeping away from Chriistian-ese – lingo that is not easily definable).

This is an investment and a sacrifice. It can hurt your sermon preparation; but it can help it by making you aware of real needs in your community. Christ sacrificed (through his relationships) his reputation as a good rabbi.

Our non-Christian friends need to see how we are similar to them and how we are different than them. If you are a struggling father, admit that. But also talk about what makes your desire to be a better dad. You don’t have to hit people over the head with some ideological principles that makes us distinct from them. They need to see anecdotally how we are different.

What are the people that irritate you? You have to bathe your homophobia, racism, preferentialism in the Gospel. Christ came to redeem all kinds of people.

 

Table Talk

What are the main obstacles in connecting with non-Christians?

Being yourself and honest. It is oftentimes easier connecting with people we do not know than people we do know. We have to allow people to see our lives that we do not have to have it together.

So much of what Darrin talked about has to do with being intentional in our lives and relationships. We need to try and not be so enmeshed in strategic church planting that that is the only thing we can talk about. Our passion for reaching the lost can become an idol. We theorize about how to reach the lost and do not reach the lost.

Our arrogance that impels us to micro-manage the weekly service or other gatherings of our people.

Many times we can find solace in our title as “pastor” around our Christian friends, but around out non-Christian friends there is no pretense in our relationships with them. We can go from conference to conference and leave ourselves with little or no time for people (Christian and non-Christian).

We presume that our friendships with non-believers can only be superficial and we, therefore, miss the imago Dei present within the non-believer. We short change ourselves when we fall into this false view of humanity and being connected. One of the qualifications for being an elder is “hospitality,” which means to be welcoming into your homes.

We do need to be aware of our weaknesses so that if we are tempted to get drunk ata pub, you need to stay away from those situations. That does not mean, however, that you divorce yourself from being involved in people’s lives. You can have people over for coffee or dinner.

Recommendation: Jerram Barrs, Being Human

What hobbies, interests, and activities do I participate in or could I participate in that might enable me to meet and befriend non-Christians?

We need to be reminded that Christ has redeemed us as humans. We cannot expect to be super-human. We are intended to be sanctified and become human – through and through. We need to learn how to integrate our faith into the hobbies and interests we have in the world. We can affirm our desire to go workout, sports bars, motorcycling. 

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Culture, Dwell Conference, Evangelism, Missions, Social Justice

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