By way of researching my book I’m OK–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers and Why We Should Stop, I posted a notice on Craigslist sites all over the country asking non-Christians to send me any short, personal statement they would like Christians to read.
“Specifically,” I wrote, “I’d like to hear how you feel about being on the receiving end of the efforts of Christian evangelicals to convert you. I want to be very clear that this is not a Christian-bashing book; it’s coming from a place that only means well for everyone. Thanks.”
Within three days I had in my inbox over 300 emails from non-Christians across the country. Reading them was one of the more depressing experiences of my life. I had expected their cumulative sentiment to be one of mostly anger. But if you boiled down to a single feeling what was most often expressed in the nonbelievers’ statements, it would be “Why do Christians hate us so much?”
Why indeed? Even in my classes in Ellis County, hardly the bastion of liberal, progressive thinking, most of my students who do not attend a fundamentalist or conservative church always want to know why Christians are so judgmental against them for not attending church.
To be a non-anxious believer is to allow others to come to a point of faith without being coerced or harangued into it. It takes a strong faith and sturdy ego to allow someone to think in ways that are out of step with our own thinking. And yet to give people the space “to think and let think,” as Wesley put it, is a hallmark of a strong faith and a Wesleyan spirit of generosity.
Paul knew something about the difficulties of which unity in the church consisted. He knew about disagreement—often embroiled in the middle of it. But he also knew that concord was important for the Body of Christ; the church. Paul wrote: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building” (Romans 14:19).