My husband is English and the way he was brought up, if you’re visiting someone and they put food on the table, you wait politely till they offer it to you. I’m an Israeli and hospitality works differently in my culture – we just put the stuff on the table and expect you, the guest, to understand that we put it there for you, because, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? :)
I post stuff online and from a recent conversation it turns out that there are people who think it’s not for them, when they are the very people I write it for. This post is for you. If you are someone who doesn’t share my faith in Jesus, if you sometimes see that I’m talking about Jesus and you think “oh, this isn’t for me” – I’d like to invite you to read those posts, because I write them for you!
Of course, just like with the food analogy, this is only an invitation and you are free to refuse, I won’t try to force you – I just want to make it totally clear that you are invited. A bit like when my husband and I were visiting my mum once and I noticed that he wasn’t touching the fruit she had put on the table even though I know he likes fruit, so I realised I had to tell him that it’s ok to help himself, because to him, with his English upbringing, it wasn’t obvious.
People have different ideas of what is considered polite and what is considered rude. In English culture it would be rude to help yourself to a banana before your host said you could. In Israeli culture it’s not just not considered rude – it’s the normal, expected behaviour, and people would find it very weird if you sat there and didn’t touch the food that they’d generously laid out for their guests.
And it seems there are similar issues in online behaviour – I’ve heard some people talk as though it’s bad manners to comment on someone’s post to say you disagree, they think you should just walk on by and say nothing. I’ve heard people talk as though my posts about my faith are obviously only for people who share my faith, even sometimes suggesting that I shouldn’t be posting those publicly but only in some private community or something – whereas the reality is that I write this stuff for those who don’t know Jesus yet, because you are the ones who need to discover the truth.
Oh, but that’s just what you believe, people tell me, attempting to place my truth claims in some subjective space which they can just ignore as one of many possible ways of understanding the world, one answer sitting there on the shelf next to the equally plausible 42 and all its friends.
I understand that this is the way many people look at things. I used to be in that place – up to age 27 I was an agnostic, and if you’d met me back then and asked me what I thought about the whole God/religion/faith thing I’d have told you: I don’t know if there is a God or not, and even if there is, how can we know what’s true about him when there are wise people who follow this religion and wise people who follow that one, etc – I was pretty sure that it was impossible to know the truth about God, so I treated all different religious world views with equal contempt.
That was before I met Jesus, who is the Truth.
Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Since I’ve been saved through faith in him, I want this for you too – I want you also to receive this amazing gift that I’ve received, the gift that is open to all who repent and believe. And so I blog. I lay out the spiritual food on the table for all who would receive it – following the way of my Saviour, who laid down his life for all who would receive it. He knew that plenty of people would walk on by and refuse his gift, but he still did it, for the sake of those who would accept his generosity and be saved.
I can’t force you to accept it. But I want you to know that the invitation is there. If you walk on by because you chose to refuse – that’s up to you. I just don’t want you to go hungry just because you didn’t realise I put the food on the table for you.