If you wanted to advertise Christianity, you would never make me the model for your campaign.
But bizarrely, I’m reading a book about evangelism and enjoying it.
Evangelism sort of feels like doing PR for Jesus; it’s ‘sharing the good news’, and I could write post after post about it but I won’t for now. Suffice to say, there’s a million and one ways to get it horrifically wrong, and as a friend said to me while we lazed in the sunshine the other day, ‘I’m not even sure we should be doing it at all.’
But although I’m only a couple of chapters in to Out of the saltshaker and into the world, I’ve found an insight from Becky Manley Pippert that has got me thinking:
Jesus was attractive to people because of his humanity, not in spite of it.
People loved to be around Jesus, they invited him to parties and weddings and home for dinner, but not because he was deeply spiritual. Because he was deeply human. She points out how Jesus was incredibly open and vulnerable. He shared his physical needs, his pain, his fears. He asked for prayer and for support.
And he loved to be with people too, taking immediate interest in them, recognising what they had in common, genuinely offering himself to them in whatever way they needed. He was, in Becky’s words, a delight.
So far so good. I’ve loved reading this description of Jesus, remembering the qualities that first fascinated and drew me to him. I’ve felt affirmed, because these are things that made him human. And I’m human too. Unlike omniscience or omnipotence, these are the qualities I can try to emulate. Here’s a way I can live to genuinely attract people to the God I adore and who loves us beyond all love’s limits.
…it doesn’t seem to work as well for me as it did for Jesus.
My openness and honesty tends more towards whining than profound revelation.
My vulnerability is usually manifested as irritating neediness than as beautiful frailty.
My partying on a Saturday night is more likely to result in a Sunday of apologetic texts than it is to draw crowds to church with me.
I get grumpy when I’m hungry. I cry when… well all the time really. I think I’m much funnier than I am. I’m awkward with groups of people, and too intense with close friends.
My humanity doesn’t usually seem delightful. It doesn’t seem attractive. It seems broken.
But the words that give me hope are words I’ve been hearing more and more, in response to blog posts, over large glasses of wine, by Tweet and by text and by reassuring shoulder squeeze at just the right time:
It’s not just me that’s broken and I’m not the only one who doesn’t do ‘human’ as well as Jesus yet. The beauty isn’t in my life and what I can give to the world, it’s not me just being me that will attract anyone to God.
The profoundness of our being human is in our being human.
It’s in the ‘me too’ moments. It’s in the look of recognition that gives comfort when we thought we were the only ones. It’s in the smile that says ‘I’ve been there, and it got better’, or ‘I’ll be there with you too’.
My humanity alone won’t attract you to Jesus. Yours won’t draw me to him either. But maybe the sharing of our humanity, however broken and bruised it is, will inspire both of us to follow a little more closely the God who was one of us.