We are familiar with the marketing world’s energy to entice us to buy the product or service they sell. Employees take courses on how to influence people, how to make an appealing speech with a slick presentation to the audience. “Glad handing” can be subtle, greeting in such a manner that the customers are not offended but enticed to believe and to purchase what the sales person is offering to give them. Their offer is for something for you to get; but the offer is made for what the seller will get. The giving is to get.
We sometimes do this in religion as well. We do a good deed for others to lure them into our friendship. It’s not uncommon for a visitor to a church to be seen as another pledge.
At a recent Laundry Love occasion when the use of washing machines was paid by my church to aid those who are poor and unable to afford washing facilities, some wondered what the “catch” was. “They’re doing this nice thing for us but what do they want in return?” was a thought going on in some of the recipients. They were surprised to find out that there was no “catch.” The offer was made to help, to see them as children of God who happen to be poor, and to offer love and kindness without seeking any reward. One person noted that this is probably the meaning of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
It is healthy for us to see one another as children of God without expectations of receiving anything for ourselves. We don’t have to “convict, convince, or convert” anyone as if to add a notch to our belts. God loves everyone whether or not they are members of a church. God doesn’t give to get. God simply offers us love to enrich our lives and nurtures that love as we choose to let it flourish. Our free-will is not interrupted. We are of value whether or not our persona has a religious label. Being saved is a matter of being freely loved.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published on May 18, 2018.