The thing about Christianity is that its easy to make it about gentle-ness and being nice. Smiles and happyfaces.
In fact most faith organizations deal with this prob. What are we meeting for? Aren’t we all here to be nice to each other. Isn’t being nice enough?
If you’ve taken a look at the real poverty and violence in the world: i.e. the inability for so many people to experience sanctuary, then I would say, no. Being nice is not enough.
Funny thing I have talked to friends in Yoga communities, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Communities, and atheist communities. Eventually 2 different questions come up. Where are we meeting and for what are we meeting (Building & Belief Questions).
For me Christianity is (w)holistic life choices and it takes ongoing hard work. It is way more than buildings and beliefs. Its about creating community and practicing openness and love.
Katy’s Practices of Christianity
1. People are adults: This is really tough, it calls us to be in community with one another and to trust that they are making the best decisions they can. This means that we do not judge them for said decisions, nor is it our job to “rescue” people from making bad decisions. It means loving them, listening carefully to them, supporting and empowering them. Judging, shaming, scolding, yelling, etc. at people sometimes happens but it is not the most effective means to communicate with them. It calls both for having good and safe boundaries with how people exist in your life and yet still being open to being in relationship with them in some way.
2. If people aren’t adults, Figure it out: I have also worked with children, mentally ill psychiatric patients and others who might not be able to function as an adult. First I figure out whether this condition is ongoing or temporary, then I figure out what decisions they are trying to make and then I try to empower them (thru support, resources, Spiritual coaching) to make that decision–my husband likes to joke that I treat everyone like children, I prefer to think of it as I treat children as seriously as I treat adults and vice versa.
3. Look for the bigger problems: As a Christian I am in a unique position where I can imagine a better world painted by Christ, and can step back from the ongoing strife and address problems as human problems instead of just an individual’s problems. From that I am able to better see symptoms and work more on far-ranging solutions.
4. Ask Questions: Jesus did an awesome job of answering questions with questions. Delving deep into an individual’s problems until they reveal who they really are. The Samaritan Woman is a foreign woman without a husband, who is lonely and thirsty for life. Zaccheus is a tax collector who feels outside of society and that he can never be redeemed. James and John are fishermen who are looking for a job to do (and its not just catching fish).
5: Call People by Name: Jesus’ holds great power in seeing people calling to them by name and through the recognition empowering them to go forth to do what God wants them to do. In our best moments, we humans do the same. Its like when the teacher calls on us and we know the answer, or we get drafted for a trip we always wanted to do. True ministry is cultivating those moments so they can be a part of the faith lives of those who are around us, so that when we are called by name we feel free to say “Yes, Lord, Here I am” to do those things.