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By Mike Edwards

My fellow blogger recently posted on this subject Is It Our Duty to Convert Others? After reading I wanted to share some thoughts that came to mind about God-followers/Jesus lovers/Christians trying to convert others.

The Bible doesn’t say about evangelism what you may think

Jeff Banman shared some thoughts about the Apostle Paul, who is known as the primary evangelist/starter of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus: Wise Evangelism | Jesus Creed |  Paul’s emphasis wasn’t as much going out and preaching the gospel but living out Jesus’ ways that can attract others to reasons behind our ways. There don’t have to be forced but natural conversations if others are interested.  Relax and simply be loving!

Does the Bible really require certain beliefs to be saved and go to Heaven?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here.

But few what to talk about God

Some may avoid spiritual discussions because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. One reason many avoid spiritual discussions is because they can smell a hidden agenda a mile away. It’s wrong to engage in friendships with others for the purpose of converting them to believe as you do, without advising upfront your agenda. I have huge regrets about some of my past actions. Parents or bosses inspire because of who they are.

What does evangelism look like in my life? 

In my twenties I felt that I had to convert others to accept Jesus as their Savior or go to Hell. Turns out the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t biblical in my opinion. See here.  Wouldn’t we be shouting “FIRE” from the rooftop if we believed Hell was real? Then, I begin to accept that God draws others to God, and I stand ready to share. When conversations take a natural tilt toward spiritual matters, I see if others want to discuss the influence God has had in my life.

God through their influence has made me a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. If others see something in my life they desire in their life, I can’t wait to share what God can do in our lives. The only outward thing I may do is at the end of my email is a list of my blogs and books written. I view as an invitation to others who may desire spiritual conversations, and they think I may be safe.

Confession

Honestly, I would be lying if I said God conversations are often. They are rare. It is why I started blogging, so I had some way to discuss thoughts about God. People know I am into God because I am often asked to say the prayer at gatherings, despite not being a church guy. (I pray they don’t burn in hell of course). Actually, I just have a conversation with God in front of others out loud. I consider myself now open-minded and non-confrontational when it comes to God. Say something racist is another matter! Still such conversations are few and far between with those I know.

Relax!

Each has to decide how they think best to share their relationship with God with others. I am convinced there is a Creator who desires a loving relationship with each of their creations. But I respect those who aren’t convinced or have doubts a Creator really exists. That doesn’t make me more moral. Conversations should be natural and mutual. We don’t have to convert people. We don’t have to feel guilty because we aren’t convincing others about God and their love for them.  God can take care of themself!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Rocky Glenn

This week marks the three year anniversary of my blogged Confessions.  When I began sharing my thoughts in 2016, I had no plan, imagination, or notion I would still be doing so three years later or any clue all of the twists, turns, bumps, hills, and surprises which lay ahead.  I never truly intended to take the path I have now followed and never imagined I would oppose and disagree with so much I once held dear.  I labeled myself a churchboy as the most accurate description of the life I lived and was leaving behind: a life of performance, a life of striving to achieve a standard often unspoken yet expected, a life of constantly comparing myself to others to ensure my efforts exceeded any they may put forth to please God.  The churchboy moniker was not intended to identify one who attends church, to me it was simply a name to identify what I had become . . . a modern day religious expert concerned more with complying to rules and traditions rather than living with a humble and loving heart.   Last year at this time, I took time to expound on my definition in What Is A Churchboy?  This year I want to take a look at a different part of the blog title.

Capture

I’ve often heard those who have overcome addictions refer to themselves as a recovering addict.  Even when interviewed after they’ve been clean or sober for twenty, thirty years or even longer, many still use the term.  Per the definition above from Merriam-Webster, recovering is being in the process of overcoming a disorder or shortcoming.  Does this mean they are still fighting the sames urges, battles, and temptations just as strongly as they once were?  Is it indicative of a lack of growth or progress in their battle to put their demons behind them?  Quite the contrary.  They are not living in a defeated or pessimistic state of mind.  It’s a point of humility, a reminder of who they once were, where they came from, the hills they’ve climbed and the valleys they’ve walked.  It keeps the awareness alive in their mind of the possibility of slipping back into addiction and serves as a connecting point to others battling the same addictions which once held them captive.  The term recovering sums up in a word the oft quoted phrase, “There but for the grace of God goes I.”

Being a recovering churchboy is a similar journey.  Having been set free from a prison of religion, it’s easy to slip back into “religious” habits as the pendulum swings to the opposite extreme of what I once believed.  If someone doesn’t value the freedom I’ve found but instead chooses to criticize, condemn, or attack these new-found freedoms and beliefs, the churchboy inside would seek to condemn them and lash out at them for being wrong and not truly understanding the gospel.  As one who is now willing to admit vast uncertainty about many issues I once claimed absolute certainty on, I bristle when encountering others who remind me of my former self.  It’s not always easy to avoid being just as harsh and critical as before of those displaying the same close-minded, smug, self-righteous attitude I once carried.  Once again, the churchboy inside seeks to commend himself for now being more acceptable, more open, and more loving than he once was all the while refusing to be accepting, open, and loving with those who disagree with him.  The long held churchboy tendencies to only associate with those who share similar beliefs and exclude all who disagree seek to rise to the surface but as one podcast host shared recently, “Exclusive inclusiveness is still exclusiveness.”

No one who has overcome an addiction desires to ever again become enslaved to the addiction which once held them captive.  To lessen the likelihood of this happening, it often requires a complete change of life which could include anything from new hobbies or friends to help pass the time all the way to relocating to a new city.  Likewise, I have no desire to return to the holier than thou, judgmental life of a churchboy.   The key to overcoming the churchboy life also requires change.  Our change comes through repentance.  Repentance is a word thrown in Christian circles quite often to imply a time of great sorrow and remorse accompanied with tears and confession of shortcomings and sins committed.  To define it in such a manner is short sighted and inaccurate.  According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it means a change of mind and according to Strong’s definition it means a reversal of one’s decision.  For churchboys to recover it requires a change of mind to understand the Father’s unconditional love which exists regardless of anything the churchboy may or may not do.  According to Paul, the sole reason for God’s kindness was to bring us to that change of mind.  Our decisions are reversed when we stop striving to meet God’s standards through our accomplishments and squash the comparisons of others to ourselves.  True peace comes in realizing if God has offered me his love and kindness with no requirements and no strings attached, he has done the same for everyone.  Waking up to this knowledge should truly allow us to love our neighbor as ourselves just as God loves us which fully embraces the idea of recovering.

I am beyond grateful for the freedom I have discovered in God’s love and for the ability to share the journey over these last three years.  Do I have everything figured out?  No!  Am I confident what I now believe is what I will always believe?  No!  Is it okay to live with uncertainty and live a life of perfect imperfection secure in God’s love?  Absolutely!

Thank for you taking the time to share the past three years with me and I look forward to sharing many more with you.  I will forever be a recovering churchboy.

Rocky

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