Treating others like Jesus Christ
The Celtic monks can teach us a simple lesson.
Like many of my thoughts, this is a bit of a puzzle put together from pieces from many different places. One place was the book The Celtic Way to Evangelism. It is a great way to see a different method of bringing people into a relationship first and then to Christ second. The Celtic method was used centuries ago to help people come to Christ. There was no way for someone with no church knowledge to understand the liturgy and scripture of the church. So the monks decided to go out and be where the general populace was. They went to taverns and market squares and everywhere around town. They went to just talk to people and find out what the people needed the most. The monks found out that people really wanted a relationship with someone who was honest and true to what they said and did. People want someone they can count on, and also someone that will not make them feel worthless and abused.
Jesus is your guest.
We are in a different world from the Celtic monks of centuries ago. However, this philosophy may help some people change the way they treat others and thus help people come to the church in a more friendly and loving manner. Too often people are afraid to go to church because they don't like the way they are treated once they get there. The book explains how the church people should act when a visitor comes through their doors.
There once was a monastery that was losing membership. It was literally dying, as the older members passed away and there were no younger members joining. Does this sound familiar to any churches you know? The head of the order prayed to God to help the Order stay alive. He heard a small, quiet voice say, "I am sending Jesus to visit you." The Abbot was thrilled. He told everyone that Jesus was coming soon. A few days later a visitor came into their compound. The visitor was treated with honor and respect that would be proper for the Son of God. The visitor left highly impressed with the way they were treated. This happened several times, a visitor would come and be treated as if they were Jesus and then they would leave and tell everyone what happened. Soon the monastery was known for their compassion, mercy and hospitality. The local village began visiting them again and within a year the Order was no longer on its way to dying out. This is the power of treating others like Jesus.
The Celtic way today.
This way of living can challenge some people, will most likely offend others, but the goal is to help others improve their lives and feel appreciated just for who they are. Then the monks would invite the people to church to be with other people who treated the villages and visitors with respect and hospitslity. The steps may be a little foreign, but they proved effective at such a basic and fundamental level that people who had never stepped foot into a church now would walk with the church goer into a service. They would not come by themselves, but once they had a friend and someone to help them along the way, they were more willing to try something new. Now they could start the journey towards underdtanding and coming to the Lord. They were never battered or forced to listen to how awful they were because they did not follow Jesus. They were approached in love and compassion. They saw mercy and grace, and then they followed their mentor into a new way of living. That is what can still happen today, if we follow the same method.
The monks of the Celtic traditions understood that they put themselves at risk with each new relationship, but they did not have fear of losing their faith. They opened their faith to others by living their lives openly and honestly. When people asked them questions the monks answered. When people had problems, the monks showed up to help, asking for nothing in return. Using this method, we too can help bring people into the church without fear of them leaving under misguided results.
Taking things slowly
There should be no attacking or yelling about how the people are going to Hell for sinning or being sinful. The general idea is still one of relationships. The goal for those who are going out to evangelize is to learn about the other person. We as church goers are still striving to help bring those who do not go to church to understand the power and grace of God. But we can show that in ways that do not involve a church building. Allow the church to leave the building and go out to the people. If we truly learn where the person is in life, to sit with them where they currently are then we can do more for them than if we badger them with verses from the Bible. Most people don’t want to hear where they are lacking or doing something wrong, they already understand how life is difficult. Typically people are just trying to be the best they can. They don’t need to know how someone else has the right way, especially if that way involves lots of change that has to happen right away.
If people were to set out and live where the non-churched people are then the goal has to be relationship over conversion. If people were to listen and not preach instantly then there can be learning and growth for both people. As people open themselves up to others and show true and honest concern for the general public, then those who are being listened to are more willing to listen themselves. They will strive to learn something new, open themselves up to new experiences including a church service now and then. According to this method, people want to be in relationship with others, and that means listening more than talking.
Treating others like they are Jesus
If we live our lives treating others as if they are Jesus then we are going to make some drastic changes in our own lives. No longer would we degrade or insult another person. We would, hopefully, find out more about the person before we passed judgments.
There is a saying out there "WWJD" which means What Would Jesus DO. This is a great start to treating others who are persecuting you and treating you with insults. If you want to see what I mean, simply go to the Religious Forum on Hub pages and read what people say about God. It shows there are lots of people, both Christian and non-Christian who have lost the ability to speak civilly and treat others as they would treat Jesus.
But if people treat others as they would treat Jesus, or someone they respect and honor, then they are more likely to listen instead of shouting louder. They are more likely to respect and help others simply because that is the right thing to do. We can change the world one step at a time. It is going to be a grass roots approach, but if each person finds someone to treat like Jesus, then the word will spread like wild fire. Like the story with the Monks, we can show the world one person at a time that being a Christian is not what they see on TV.
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