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Saturday, February 16, 2013

What kind of person are you?

So There Are Two Kinds of People….

I heard somebody say the other day that there are two kinds of people.  The first kind is the people who believe that there are only two kinds of people.  The other, of course, is the rest of us.  However, I had some experiences the other day that made me realize that there ARE two kinds of Christians in the church (granted, there are more than two, but there is an issue in which there are two points of view that are predominant).  But before I tell you what they are, let me illustrate with what I experienced.

So at the recent book signings for my book, Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce, I was at the table and would visit with people while there.  Often, people would look at my book with kind of a blank or uncertain look on their faces.  I would then explain that it is a daily devotional to help people who are going through a divorce.  Sometimes they would tell me how grateful they were that they didn’t need a book like that, because their marriage is intact, or because they have never gotten married.  One couple told me they had been married 30 years, and didn’t expect to need my book, because they had a good marriage.  More power to them!  I hope they celebrate a 40th and a 50th, and who knows how many more! 
But sometimes, I got a different reaction.  Sometimes the people would say that, though they didn’t need the book themselves, they knew someone who did.  One woman took one, and then asked me to personalize another for a friend of hers who was struggling with divorce.  A pastor picked up three, because he said he had three people he knew who really needed something like that.  And as I was driving home, I realize I had experienced a sort of microcosm of what happens with my book, which illustrates more than just my book.  Do you see the difference in the responses? 

In the first case, people looked at my book to see if it was relevant for their lives, and then when they realized it wasn’t, went on to find the materials that would be useful for their situations.  (Although, I might point out that they didn’t stop to think that it might have helped them understand the struggle of people they know, or will come to know, who are facing divorce.)  These people are always looking for things that will help them grow in Christ, things that will enrich their lives, or meet the needs they are experiencing. 

The other group of people were those who go through life looking for things that will help them be able to minister to the needs of OTHERS, ways that they can be used by God to make a difference in SOMEBODY ELSE’S life.  Those people looked at my book, not for its relevance for their own lives, but for ways they could use it as a ministry tool in the lives of others.  And I would almost guarantee that there wasn’t a person who saw the book who doesn’t know somebody (or will) whose life is torn with the ravages of divorce.  And these are the two types of Christians I consistently meet in the churches. 

Realize the book is just an example.  In our churches, though, there are Christians who evaluate pastors, select churches, choose music, get involved in events and ministries based on whether or not it will be of benefit to themselves, and they are always on the lookout for something that will be useful for themselves.  Then there are those who evaluate pastors, churches, music and various ministries based on how they can be used to meet the needs of OTHERS, and they are always on the lookout for something that can make a difference in the lives of OTHER people.  Kind of stark when I say it like that, isn’t it?  The first group is kind of big contrast from Jesus, who went way out of His way to a well in Samaria for a woman of broken relationships, because He believed she was important and needed help.  Interestingly enough, she became the best evangelist He had there in that town.

It kind of reminds me of a few Bible verses.  Like Mark 10:45---For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV), where Jesus describes His own mindset.  Or some things Paul said, like in 2 Corinthians 4:5---“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.”  (ESV), or Philippians 2:4---“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV).  In these verses, it makes clear that a commitment to Christ compels us, no commands us to be concerned for and involved with the needs of others.  Christianity that is focused upon self, or even focused on one’s own relationship with God with no thought for others, or even Christianity that practices putting oneself ahead of potential ministry with others….well, that is a faith that does NOT follow the footsteps of Christ.  And, it seems to me, the sooner we learn that lesson, the better off our churches and their ministries will be. 

So let me suggest again that the purpose of my book is for it to be a tool people like YOU can use to express your care and provide needed help to folks going through divorce and its aftermath.  And I believe it is a critical tool in a realm in which the need is great, but Christian help available is very limited.  If you know someone, and want to get the book to them, you can obtain signed copies directly from me via the email address on the blog.  You can also order copies (ebook or paperback) from westbowpress.com or christianbook.com or in the United Kingdom, through www.whsmith.co.uk  as well as the normal online outlets.  I want to encourage you to keep your eyes open, not only to those caught in the struggles of divorce, but needing other ministries and caring, because that is the way Christ walked through our world, and it is the way He wants us to walk as well.  There is somebody you know, or will know, who is waiting for YOU to show you care.  And your care will represent God’s care!

TL:dr  The two kinds of Christians can be seen by whether we are concerned about ourselves, or concerned about the needs of others, and the response of people to my book illustrates the difference.   

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