One of the primary goals of the Gathering Church is to learn how to like people. Sure, the assumption is that we, as Christians are dedicated to ‘love’ others, but, let’s be honest, those ‘others’ aren’t so sure that we even like them.
We don’t, because we can’t and we won’t.
We cant, most often because our own insecurities turn relationships into auditions. (See yesterday’s post.) We tend to audition others to see if they are likable, the main test being whether they like us and make us feel better about ourselves.
But, when we become Christians we find a whole new way of not liking people. We transition from the audition to the audit, the spiritual audit. We misapply the biblical teachings about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of humanity in such a way that we have a new starting point in relationships: the spiritual deficit.
In our auditions we ask: “Does this person like me and make me feel better about myself?” In the audit, we ask, “To what degree does this person believe the right things and behave the right ways?” You know that that was the Pharisees’ primary orientation towards people, right?
Even the spiritual audit is related to our insecurities. As Christians we find new ways of being insecure. Now we have a new set of spiritual expectations by which to measure ourselves. How fun. (Don’t worry, I believe and experience deeply the reality of what truly happens with us in Christ – that we find our security and life in him.)
You think that you don’t dislike people by beginning with a spiritual audit? The last time you told a Christian friend about a co-worker or a neighbor, how many seconds was it before you attempted to define where they were in belief or behavior?
“There’s a guy I work with, who’s trying to get our office to sponsor a family for Christmas. He’s not a believer, but he really wants to help others.”
If I conducted an interview with you and asked you to identify and say something about your co-workers and neighbors, would I conclude that you really like them? Or, that you have really judged them and have assigned them their places on your spiritual audit grid.
Better, yet, if I dropped by your office and you introduced your co-workers to me, what would I see on you face? Would you be lit up with the delight of me meeting people you like? Or, would you be waiting for those private moments to tell me the real stuff about them. Would you have a reason to bless them in the introduction, telling me some very likable thing about them – because you like them?
The nice thing about the biblical teaching in respect to the sinfulness of humanity is that the audit has already been done. “All have fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We all start at the same place. And the audit was done on the Cross of Christ, sin forever judged and destroyed.
No wonder Jesus was so free to like people, to truly love them. And was he ever good at liking people. You don’t get accused of being a “friend of sinners” for nothing.
At the Gathering Church, we want to learn how to love people incredibly well, as Jesus did. We’re going to begin by liking people.