Ringing bells with our wishing wells


World Peace Bell
World Peace Bell – Newport, Kentucky

Dan Clenendin highlights in his post, the outrage of outsiders, repeats depressing research findings from America (Kinnaman 2007) showing how 16-29 year olds regard the church. Here are the percentages of people outside the church who think that the following words describe present-day Christianity:

antihomosexual 91%, judgmental 87%, hypocritical 85%, old-fashioned 78%, too political 75%, out of touch with reality 72%, insensitive to others 70%, boring 68%.

It would be hard to overestimate, says Kinnaman, “how firmly people reject — and feel rejected by — Christians” (19). Or think about it this way, he suggests: “When you introduce yourself as a Christian to a friend, neighbor, or business associate who is an outsider, you might as well have it tattooed on your arm: antihomosexual, gay-hater, homophobic. I doubt you think of yourself in these terms, but that’s what outsiders think of you” (93). This is a far cry from the reception of the first believers, who, according to Luke, “enjoyed the favour of all the people” (Luke 2:47). The church’s message isn’t ringing the right bells for generations of our people.

I wonder if we have forgotten to love our neighbour – that person who lives the other side of the fence with a different lifestyle and set of beliefs. In a fearful culture neighbours are suspect until they prove themselves otherwise  by “coming round” to our way of thinking. The first believers lived a different culture, being sent out to neighbours with the simplest of messages “peace to this house: peace to you” and with a love that was to overcome all sorts of barriers and offences. I wonder if we could ring more bells with more resounding wishing wells to those who now see themselves the other side of the wall – and the wrong side of-fence.