Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Starbucks Anxiety.

It is Wednesday, which in the world of this girl means:
Work - 9am til 3pm
Bible Study - 6pm til 9:30pm
Going out with friends - 11pm til the cows come home (no, not us's just an expression.)

The part I'd like to focus on is Bible Study. I love it, it's a highlight of my week. But I always get anxiety because we sit in a corner of a Starbucks and because it is such a highly visible (and also quite audible) location, I spend quite a bit of time worrying about how we seem to the general public.

Please don't misunderstand me. It is not an embarrassment like, "Oh dear, we're praying in public...people might know I'm a Christian" sort of thing. I've been a believer long enough, I would hope that I am past that. No, it's more like, "We're on display. We are being obvious Christians. Should we be more intentional about the things we say and do?"

Is that fake? I'm not sure. As followers of Christ we are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), and it goes on to say that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. And so it goes, a bible study held in the middle of a corporate coffee icon also cannot be hidden. I'm always thinking:
1. Can people hear us?
2. Are they listening?
3. Are they laughing/scoffing/judging/what-have-you?
4. Are we saying anything that would be a bad witness?
5. Do we have our theology straight?

We have had Catholics come up while we were discussing the idea of purgatory. We have had Lebanese Christians come up while we were discussing the situation in Lebanon. We have had meaningful interaction with these and other people who seem to be interested in what we are doing, and so I don't think it is strange for me to be conscious of how we appear to the general surrounds.

And then there is the thought (brought up by the leader of our Sunday class): For all the time we sit in that corner, are we buying/tipping enough? Are we leaving our trash around? Are we friendly with the staff? You can't hold a bible study in a public place and then leave your rubbish lying around afterward! It might sound silly, but who wouldn't take that opportunity to make a comment about Christians in general? If I weren't us, I would certainly bash us for doing that!!

I suppose the point of all this is that we need to be on our guard at all times, and in all things, perhaps even things that seem as small as noise level in a public place, littering, language, etc..

Consider 1 Timothy 4:16
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."


Catrina the Great said...

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[c] just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."[Romans 1:16-17]

This was something I was reading earlier today, so I thought your blog and this went together. Paul was not ashamed because he knew the truth...The "power" in that comes from God... even if we as humans do not use the right words, he can use our voices to speak truth to others.

Not that you said you were ashamed... I just thought of Paul and this qoute. I think it is fantastic to see other Christians, visible in this world, living for the Gospel. This encourages believers and speaks truth to non-believers.

As far as being intentional... you've got something there. If you are using someone else's to gather as Christians, why wouldn't you respect it? Anyway... I guess the first part I wrote would address my thoughts on what others hear/think.

Cheers to you...keep on living for the Kingdom!

Michelle said...

Yeah, me and some of the Wesley ladies used to have Bible Study at the pub. Sometimes it was so so good, sometimes it was a bit loud in there, and sometimes we would get really self-conscious about doing spiritual things in a pub!

I love it when Christians are highly visible, and are interacting with the community. Heaps important! But if the subject matter started to get personal or we wanted to delve deeper than the pub atmosphere would allow, we would have a back-up option like someone's house, if anyone wanted ministry or to talk about a really personal issue. Hope you have that house option too.

Kevin said...

What is true for me is that "The City on the Hill" is what we are on the inside. If our motives are to "be seen" and have an image that we are "good" because we have the guts to study openly at Starbucks, then that is all that will be achieved by the study.

If we are there just because we love Our Maker and have a sincere desire to do His work then that is what is referred to as "The City on the Hill" as it will be known to others by vitue of its purity.

Consider why this is causing you anxiety, pray about it and allow God to throw that anxiety into the garbage heap where it belngs!