Whats LOVE got to do with it?
Tina Turners song “Whats Love Got To Do With It?” is on my most hated songs list. And it seems she didn't like it either! Songfacts says this about the song:
In this song, Tina Turner plays the part of a woman who enjoys the carnal encounters with her lover, but feels no emotional attachment. She wants him to know that there's nothing more to it, as for her it's purely physical. Their relationship has nothing to do with love, which she dismisses as "a sweet, old-fashioned notion." It's really an anti-love song, and Turner hated it. http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1247
Love has everything to do with the Good News we represent to the world. But that isn't what many people experience when they encounter Christians. In 2010 I began a work helping churches welcome and incorporate New Canadians into their faith community. That project morphed into Encompass Partnerships, where we focus on a welcome and embrace of anyone who is marginalized by society, not just immigrants. In the years since, my experience is that the greatest barrier to people coming to Jesus from the margins is the prejudice and fear Christians hold toward them. Unless this is overcome, the truth of "Christ for all" is unrealistic and in the experience of the marginalized, untrue.
The Bible says perfect love casts out fear. The level of fear and prejudice I see in Christians reflects an uncomfortable reality that something about their own relationship with Jesus is off.
I sat in a seminar last weekend listening to stories of people who had come to a relationship with Christ from a religious background that has a very negative view of Christians. It wasn't apologetics that convinced them. It wasn't a linear logic of theological truth spun together into a 'gospel presentation' that convinced them to turn their back on their strong religious culture and upbringing to follow Christ. It was a persistent, patient and very relationally present love that won their hearts and minds.
But this kind of love does not happen without proximity. You have to be there. You have to have a relationship. And that's the problem for too many Christians. Fear and prejudice keeps them at arms length from even considering a connection with someone who is "other" to them. Until you choose to get past your fear and prejudice and actually MEET that person, you will continue ruminating on your perceptions, which only serves to add fuel to the fires that drive your prejudice.
- Meet a Muslim person and you will discover they are concerned about the same issues of life, meaning, job security and family as you.
- Connect with someone from the LGBTQ community and you will discover someone seeking affirmation and acceptance, just like you.
- Talk to that woman who has experienced sex slavery and you will find a person who wishes their life dreams would come true, just like you.
- Build a relationship with an aboriginal person and discover a richness of culture, history and hopes that has possibly been clouded over by pain, possibly like your life story.
- Have coffee with that harried single mom living in a basement suite in Bowness who does all she can with limited resources to give her kids the best life she can, just like your aspirations.
- Discuss life with that funky artistic person and discover they are on a search for meaning and purpose, just like you.
Peel back the layers of religion, culture, behaviour, sexual preferences, lifestyle choices, economics, habits etc. and you will find a person made in God's image, your equal in God's eyes, who is deserving of love. Problem is that when you choose to evaluate a person only from what you encounter on the 'outside', you will miss the in-the-image-of-God humanity that is that person on the inside.
I challenge you to step away from evaluating people from the outside. I challenge you to step away from manipulating encounters so that you can be in position to 'explain the gospel'. I challenge you to take up your position as an ambassador of Christ and represent Him as though He was in you, speaking and relating to that person.
His LOVE represented by your actions, has everything to do with drawing people to Himself.