China is on my mind. More specifically, Chinese people who continue to amaze me and encourage me and be there for me, despite the distance. Which brings me to this reoccuring thought: what happens when you meet people who are living out the fruits of the Spirit far better than you (the Christian) ever has, and they don't profess to know Christ? How do you approach the Gospel to these people?
Obviously, the Gospel is about freedom and redemption and more than anything else, love. Love between God and people. Love between man and women. Love between children and parents. But isn't it moreso about making meaning in one's life? After all, if we sell the Gospel as something to simply "make you happier" or "make you more successful" or (God-forbid) "make you feel blessed all the time," then what happens when these things are not so after one trusts in Christ? What happens if these three things feel as if they fly out the window of people's hearts the moment they become disciples?
I don't know how to word this, or how to tell people who don't know God about this yet, but I want to try and play with this idea as my way of talking about the gospel from now on. I want to talk about how it's more about giving meaning to things, and less about feeling safe and happy and quaint. How it's about living in and on a certain kind of paradox. One that understands pain and suffering but does not delight in it; one that embraces mystery without embracing an ignorance on tough questions; and one that realizes life is really about loving people and loving God, no matter how many people choose to do the exact opposite. We live on the opposite ends of a spectrum, when really we should be living in the middle. Not the lukewarm middle, but the middle that teeters on balancing mercy and grace with justice and peace. The middle that does not believe in blind love or blind faith, but rather, faith that doesn't marginalize and love that doesn't compromise. I realize, this is the ideal...and we will never (ever) get there. But as I like to tell my students when a few of them have approached me and told me that hope, in the end, turns into hopelessness I say, "No, I don't think it does."
Maybe it turns into a smaller kind of hope...a shred of hope that seems so thin and fragile it appears to not be hopeful at all. But in truth, it is still called hope. And it is still worth clinging to (I think) no matter how many future wars come or how many Tsunamis hit or how many children in orphanages die believing no one loved them. Just because these things are so, doesn't give us right to live less. But it should give us reason to live more.
At least, I think that's what it's all about.