Tim King – Conversion or Contribution
Transcendence beyond our belief systems. Inclusion. Mystery. Humility. These are the topics as ThinkFwd host Spencer Burke catches up with Tim King—author, activist, and President/CEO of The David Group International (a peace and reconciliation Non-Governmental Organization). Spencer kicks off the conversation with a potentially controversial question, “Why is Christianity (and many religions) so fraught with doomsday theology—with a catastrophic end to the world a primary focus?”
Tim thinks it is because we let our belief systems become the end point, rather than simply being pointers toward the mysterious, toward God. When we read the text as a map with pointers (rather than literally), just as Jesus points us toward God, then we will recast the future in a constructive rather than a catastrophic story.
The present moment is all we really have. The past is gone and the future is not here yet. Let’s not become overly obsessed with the future so that we waste the present moment.
At best, Tim says, our belief systems are pointers, not our identity. If we move to this way of thinking, then we can meet others at a place “beyond our belief systems” in an area of mystery and humility. We can transcend our belief system and be inclusive. The mentality is not one of “all or nothing.” We do not have to forfeit our beliefs to contribute to the lives of others.
If we believe that God is reality, a presence, the unnameable, who dwells in mystery beyond us, then we can believe that we are “beyond our belief system.”And we can celebrate together with others of many different belief systems. On the other hand, if we have a conversion mentality that believes we have to convert people to our belief system, then it is as if we’ve drawn a line and said, “We can only fellowship with you if you come over to our side.”
Spencer asks Tim what he hopes the future holds for people of faith. Tim’s reply: “Lay down our conversion mentality and take up a contributing mentality. If this happens, there’s no end to the global ills that can be taken care of in our lifetime.”
- Do you see your belief system as your identity or as pointers to God?
- How do you feel your belief system would be different in the frameworks of conversion, conflict and cooperation?
Small Group or Staff Questions:
- If the “gold standard” for Christians is Christ, and our currency is our beliefs put into action, how is our “cash flow” as a community?
- How would we rate our community with the Fruit of the Spirit—as nourishment or ammunition?