Contrary to popular belief it is not in fact talk like a pirate day. . . that's Sept. 19. Actually, I don't even think "barnacled" is a word, but it should be so I'm using it here. Although it doesn't underline it as misspelled so...
I've continued reading "Love Without Agenda" this week and I am really enjoying the writing style and thought process of Jimmy Spencer Jr. The book reminds me of Donald Miller and the first time I read "Blue Like Jazz". I feel challenged and broken and nostalgic and excited and called-out all at the same time. (I'm sure there are more but those are the ones that came to mind.) I met Jimmy in Seattle a couple weekends ago at the Open Seattle and it turns out he lives in Chicago and I went to school with his brother. We had a couple quick conversations and I heard him speak and I just KNEW that this guy was the "real deal" and I HAD to get his book.
So as I'm reading last night about agendas in life, this particular short paragraph jumped out at me and gave me all of the above feelings at once.
"When we talk to people, serve people, or eat with people, simply because we have an agenda for them to become Christians, we hoist our image of humanity upon them. We objectify them and dehumanize them, even if we have the very best of intentions."
To be fair I've taken this paragraph completely out of context. The whole point of the book is to, you guessed it, love people without an agenda. To see people as God's created beings. . . just like you and me. So when talking about our agendas in life Jimmy is saying that if our only purpose for talking to someone or befriending someone is to bring them to church or to convert them then we've missed out on really loving them. Those aren't bad things, but are we really just trying to turn that person into us. . . selling them our "brand".
As Jimmy says, "Maybe we've barnacled our agenda onto Christianity? Maybe we've replaced the pattern of Jesus with this Christian pattern?"
He sums it up by saying:
"We're too busy advancing Christianity to practice being Christian."
Makes you think, huh? Makes ME think! Especially for those of us in ministry. . . what agendas have we "barnacled" to the message of Christ? What is getting in the way of us seeing people as the image and likeness of God and loving them for that alone?