Do we have realistic expectations for others?
When I began the journey toward a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and freedom from the tyranny of “religious performance and religious obligation” (to borrow a phrase from Wayne Jacobsen), I felt a strong compulsion to defend my decision and, more than that, to convince others to do the same thing. It was an instinctive response, so to speak, that I had previously acted upon over the years; for example, when I first embraced a particular theological worldview I felt the need to engage my friends, challenge their perspectives (which I had shared only weeks or months prior to my headlong pursuit of a new direction), and try my best to convince them to join my “new” way of thinking.
But I was wrong to do that. As I deeply desire the fellowship of others, I have no right to such fellowship and camaraderie if it has to be forced. I have always enjoyed the liberty and freedom of making up my own mind about things; and sometimes I end up going completely against the flow. What I have come to realize is that I should cherish the same thing for others…to respect their journey and what God is doing in their hearts through the amazing influences of the Holy Spirit. This is my journey, not their journey!
So I have laid down my “weapons” of persuasion and “surrendered” my friends into the same gracious care of the triune God that I myself enjoy every day. If I were able to convince them to join me on this journey outside the box, then either (1) someone else along the way may persuade them to take a completely different path or (2) they may grow to resent me for pressuring them into something they were not ready for. And it’s just not worth it.