Friday, April 14, 2006

The indirection of Jesus

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other.
I've been haunted by this passage of John for a while now. As far as I know this is the only place where Jesus talks about how disciples would have influence in the world. I've been asking friends for other examples and we've come up blank.

So what if this is it.? The key to reaching the world is for disciples of Jesus to love one another. How insanely indirect is that? Maybe it's not about technique, being relevant, creating sensitive spaces for seekers, speaking with moral authority, being post whatever or any of the other things I've been obsessed with. It undermines much of what I have thought about evangelism and Church life. It's both freeing and scary all at once.

to be continued...

- Peace


steve said...

freeing and scary indeed

kris said...

Actually, it sounds like what you've been saying all along. When you take away all the gimicks this is really all you're left with. At least, that's what I heard you saying.

Dave King said...

yes, without Love there is nothing, I've been saying that for quite some time. What's new (over the last year or so) is that the way we reach the world is not to show love to the world but to love other Christians. It's so very indirect.

- Peace

Lisa S said...

You've been asking fiends for suggestions? That may be your problem.

I'm such a typo nag.

Dave King said...

Fixed. Where would I be without fiends like you?

- Peace

Richard said...

As for other examples about having influence in the world or bringing people to Christ, my wife has pointed out the woman at the well in John 4.

At the start of the story she's not impressed with Jesus, by the end she is telling the village all about him. Since it is just the two of them there isn't much room for indirect love there.

For another example of direct love bringing about conversion, I'd like to recall a veggie tales song.

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
and a wee little man was he.
He climbed upon a sycamore tree,
for the Lord he wanted to see

I think Jesus has given us examples of direct love bringing about conversion. As you already pointed out yourself, one of the ten healed lepers did return and receive salvation.

Perhaps your insight into indirect love and direct love is more of a both/and situation rather than an either/or situation. Perhaps the FRED principle is more of a case of giving 95% of the attention to one side of the equation.

Dave King said...

There are many people who argue that from the story healing, feeding people, conversation, miracles ... are all important to evanglisim. But when we search for what Jesus said about how to influence the world, well it's a different picture.

I'm all for learning from the stories, but in this case we seem to have ignored what Jesus actually placed at the center.

- Peace

Nate said...

I've read a very different intepretation of the woman at the well from John and Paula Sanford, they argue that she served as a prophet to that village, 7 husbands had died, and the one she was with currently would have been a brother of one of those husbands, as was the custom.

Persons of influence will do so, but I agree the command to love another, as the way to be known to the world, is as counter-intuitive as God coming to death, and seemingly just as liberating.

Makes sense to me, (but then so did that interpretation of the woman at the well, I'll recommend that folks check out for themselves in the Elijah Task.

They will know we are Christians by our love. It's a powerful line. And then there's a Malachi prophecy, about turning the hearts of sons to their fathers.