At Church yesterday a sermon was preached which I have heard a number of times over the years. It was the ‘get out there and evangelise’ sermon which included a section on persecution. The jist being that we may well loose friendships, be ridiculed or rejected when we open up to people about our faith. This got me thinking about my own life and the journey that I have taken. I was brought up within the Church. In fact, I was born while my parents were at Bible College and as a child have gone with them to pioneer a number of Churches. Church was my home and always something I felt comfortable with and in. However, the consequence of being ‘core’ within any Church is often that Church becomes your life. This happened to me as I grew up, evenings were spent in meetings, spare time with Christian friends. I heard the ‘evangelise but be prepared for persecution’ sermon on many occasions. This reinforced my ‘them and us’ attitude and fear. I truly believed that while I could have a superficial friendship with people at work etc I couldn’t get truly close to them because they were on the ‘other side’ and I was afraid of persecution! God over recent years, however, has taken me on a remarkable journey. He has taken me out of my comfort zone through circumstances and landed me well and truly within a world of the un-Churched! What I have found most remarkable about this transistion in my life is that now some of my closest friends are unchurched. I can have a deep and meaningful relationship with them. What is even more remarkable is that I have yet to come across ‘one of them’ who doesn’t believe in God on some level! The 2001 Census showed that 37.3 million people claimed that they were Christian when asked about their faith, and yes they probably aren’t ‘born again’ in our sense of the word, but they do belive on some level. John 5 v 24 says ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life…’ Does this not mean that on some very basic level my friends are Christian, is it not more that they need discipleship? Hence my reluctance to call anyone ‘non-Christain’ and my preference for the term ‘un-churched’.
So really my point of my ramblings is this, once I was afraid to share my life with the unchurched, believing they would ridicule, mock and reject me. However I have found the unchurched world open, eager for friendship, keen to live their lives in a fullfilled way, happy to listen to my ramblings and keen to understand my faith. Don’t be afraid to share your life with the unchurched, I don’t mean ‘preaching’ at people, I mean opening yourself up to friendship, fun and laughter with people from all different backgrounds. You may find that the persecution never comes!