An airing of grievances
In most cases, when you disagree with or have been hurt by someone, the best thing you can do is confront them and discuss the issue. But who do you talk to in this case? How do you address “the church” or talk to the collective Christians of the world?
We believe we have a starting point. We want to listen.
On Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6, Overflow, a Christian group at Wash. U., will be at the “booth” along with other Christians on campus to listen to students’ experiences and struggles with the church, Christians, and Christianity in general. We will be on the Women’s Building lawn from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. both days as well as on the Swamp and on the Village Green from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
The purpose of this campaign is not to start arguments. It’s not to force our beliefs on people who disagree with us. It’s not even to smooth things over and convince you that your qualms with the church are unfounded. It’s simply to listen and to apologize.
We want to hear your hurt, your disagreements, and your disillusionment and understand why it is you feel that way, because we, as Christians, have contributed to that. We have all been judgmental and hypocritical before. We have hurt people unintentionally—and probably also intentionally. And we want to apologize for ourselves and on behalf of the church and Christians for the pain and frustration that have been caused.
Why is this important to us? Because Jesus wasn’t like that. And in light of Easter this weekend, we want you to know that Jesus didn’t come to condemn people. He wasn’t judgmental or hurtful. He didn’t preach one thing and do another. Instead, his message was one of mercy and love. In fact, he said himself, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NIV). And that’s exactly what we believe Jesus did. He chose to call us his friends, and his love for all of us is in fact so great, it led him to give up everything—even his life—to save us.
The fact that we, as Christians, have hurt people in some way, shape or form, just goes to show how much we fall short of Jesus and how much we need his sacrifice. Because of the grace he has given us, we have been forgiven. And out of that, we want to show the same love to our campus and begin the dialogue and healing process for those who have been hurt or are frustrated with Christians.
We know that this campaign could potentially be inviting a backlash of anger or resentment from those who have real issues and deep-seated pain that stems from experiences with the Church or Christians, but that’s okay—and even encouraged. We welcome anything you have to say because we respect your honest opinions and we want to try to understand where you’re coming from.
So come talk to us at the “booth” on Thursday or Friday (or if you don’t have time, leave us a comment at http://tinyurl.com/theboothwu). No judgments. No arguments. Just a sincere desire to listen and understand.