That's what we've been saying at UNT for the past week. Two dozen people from CCF - a ministry at Western Washington University that we have a wonderful relationship with - spent their spring break on our campuses, learning more about just how different Texas is and talking to students about their spiritual beliefs.
We did the "I'm Sorry" campaign. You're probably wondering what that's about. We invite people to voice their problems with Christians and engage them in discussions about that. And then we apologize for the ways that we've hurt people - not just "I'm sorry that somebody else did this to you" - but personal apologies. What sort of complaints do we hear?
Some people pointed to the pop-culture presentation of proselytizing Christians. Our media often paints a very negative picture of religious people and Christians in particular, and some of the people I talked to had never had a friendship with a living, breathing disciple of Jesus - so their only point of reference was these fictional images.
And sometimes it was more personal. Cruel high schoolers or an encounter with a judgmental bigot.
I recently finished reading "They Like Jesus but Not the Church", which grappled with this problem - how some people don't ever give Jesus a chance in their lives because they've been hurt by Christians. And it's little surprise that Christians hurt people - aren't we all human? - and all the more heartbreaking to me that we sometimes make it more difficult for people to come to know God. The week of "I'm Sorry" kept reminding me of Matthew 23:13 , where Jesus is rebuking the religious leaders of the day. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."
These are some of the things that I shared in conversations or on notecards throughout the week - and some I've communicated back to the person I treated like this.
I'm sorry for being so caught up in my own life that I didn't make time to be your friend.
I'm sorry for treating you like you were fragile and afraid of having your beliefs challenged.
I'm sorry for being pushy about my beliefs and not accepting that you're content with what you believe.
I'm sorry for dragging you to my church events and not explaining better what was going on!
I'm sorry that I didn't try harder to live up to my beliefs - what offended you was Melissa, but you respected Christ less because of me being a poor follower of Him.
So I'd like to leave you with that thought this month. What do you think of what people said about Christians? (If I explained poorly please go read what Matt had to say about the week - he wrote much better than I did!) How did you contribute to their negative views, or how did you prove them wrong and show a true reflection of Jesus? Don't hesitate to comment if you have something to share!
Thinking about next month - it's crazy to think we are so close to the end of the spring semester! We have our end-of-year celebration coming up in just a few weeks and final exams shortly after that. Keep praying for our students, especially that they would be faithful with what they're responsible for as the semester speeds to a close. Thank you again for all your support!