PUTTING A LOVING FACE ON CHRISTIANITY
I have always marveled at the many different types of people who were attracted to Jesus. Obviously it wasn’t because he watered down any of his teachings. Neither was it because he acted in a sinful way. He was holy. In spite of that, however, we see “sinners” flocking to him. Clearly he didn’t come off as holier than thou. That’s amazing because even if a person doesn’t mean to come off that way, sometimes people still view them that way. But we don’t see that with Jesus. Instead of people feeling condemned by him, they felt loved by him.
It wasn’t just those who were living in open sin that were attracted to him either. On the other end of the spectrum we see Pharisees inviting him into their homes for dinner. At his burial we see two prominent Jewish leaders expressing their love for him. It didn’t matter: rich or poor, the self-righteous or the blatant sinner, Jew or Gentile – all types felt comfortable with Jesus. I would have loved to watch Jesus interacting with all these different people to see how he did it.
Obviously his love for people shone so brightly that they were willing to listen to him even when he said things they didn’t like.
Having our love shine through for people, even when we say things they don’t like, is something well worth working on. It’s something that is definitely needed when we are talking with Mormons. Unfortunately, far too often a loving face is not what Mormons have seen when talking with Christians. Take, for example, the experience of many LDS missionaries. More than a few have doubts about Mormonism by the time they are finishing their missions. But it’s no surprise that few are interested in exploring biblical Christianity since so many Christians treated them rudely or worse while they were on their missions. It doesn’t take many negative experiences with Christians before Mormons won’t want to have anything to do with Christianity.
On the other hand, it has been our experience that Mormons are much more inclined to talk with us when we do put a loving face on our Christianity. To repeat, that doesn’t mean watering down our message or avoiding the tough subjects. But what it does mean is showing them common courtesy. It might mean giving your LDS neighbor a helping hand or the LDS missionaries a cool glass of water on a hot day. It means taking genuine interest in them as a fellow human being. Simple acts like that have afforded us opportunities to share God’s Word much more thoroughly with them. They are much more inclined to stay and listen even when the hard topics come up.
We can’t – and we shouldn’t ever try to remove the offense of the Christ. But there are some offensive things that we can and should stay away from. In all our interactions, may we learn from Jesus and put a loving face on Christianity.