Rumor has it You love me
Rumor has it the world spins upside down
Rumor has it my only hope is in You
And the rumors are true
I turn everything over
The above lines from a Switchfoot song keeps running through my mind in light of a recent conversation I had with an atheist on Christianity (see the comment section to my essay called “Redemption, Reconciliation, and Liberation”). The essay started with Jesus, and the conversation appropriately ended with Jesus too. Maybe that is why he finally bailed out of the discussion. (He has not yet commented since last Friday.)
This gentleman I had the conversation with is a very intelligent person who was honest in his questions and objections to the tenets of Christianity. I thank him for his honesty. I hope that I cleared up some of his misinformation about Christianity, especially in the area of humility and love. My goal was not to convert, but to inform. I also hope that I showed him that when someone walks through the church doors, their brain is not placed in idle.
I learned a lot in the process of writing the original essay and trying to reply to his comments. He will not understand my next statement, but some will: I could not have done it without the help of the Holy Spirit. I reached beyond myself to write some of what I did. I felt my heart grow in size and in its understanding of love. It reminds me of the scene in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas where his heart grows three sizes and breaks the little x-ray picture frame.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon this line from Frederica Mathewes-Green that sheds some light on the position of many non-Christians:
Changes to make the faith merely appealing, however, backfire. The Gospel is inherently not appealing but challenging, or as St. Paul said, an offense and stumbling block. People who are coaxed into buying it for its charming qualities are apt to feel deceived, and to quit altogether, [especially] when the going gets tough (see the Parable of the Sower).
This describes him perfectly. He has seen through the attempts to make Christianity appealing by some well meaning person or group. It turned him off completely (including any sense of spirituality too). I would bet that he saw through the hypocrisy of some Christians too.
But more importantly, the message of the Gospel is not appealing to him. The ideals of “to love unconditionally” and “to love everyone” was a real and tangible “offense and stumbling block” to him. I see his point; these ideals do go against human nature. We do put conditions on what we do and love. We do not want to love everyone, just the ones who love us back, or the ones who are easy to love.
From what I understand from reading his weblog, he has built a philosophy of life and politics around the concept of the individual—the individual is the most important thing in society. (A sign of our culture?) Christianity on the other hand says that there is no such thing as an individual. Each unique person is important within the context of his or her community. He views individuality on a spectrum that is polar opposite to community. While Christianity steps away from this spectrum and tries to embrace both the individual person and the community together. If community is as important as the person, then the ideals of “loving unconditionally” and “loving everyone” make sense.
It all reminds me of a line from the song above, “Rumor has it the world spins upside down.” To most of the world, it is just a rumor. The thing is, the rumor is true. I turn everything over because Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”