Christians on TV

You know one of my biggest concerns right now is how Christians are percieved in the world. It seems like most of the places that you look people don’t really like us. Lately as I have been watching Christians outside of my local church I don’t really like us either. How in the world did the public face of Christianity become a bunch of people with a political agenda. How can a group of people rally against Christian teenagers and legitmately believe that Christians are facist and biggots and full of hate. How did Christianity become synonomous with the Repulican party? How did all Christians suddenly become Warmongerers and haters.

This happened not because there are stupid people who are the face of Christianity in America. There are some really stupid Christians who have made the whole point of public Christianity political, but that isn’t why people can say theses things about us. The reason that people can stand up and say that Christians are full of hate is because the local church has stopped loving the world. It isn’t the public people’s fault. It is our fault. If we in the local church were actually reaching out to our neighbors in love then when those crazy people speak out in public and say that “God hates fags” and they change Jesus from a savior into a candidate everyone would know they were crazy. If every time people were hurting or down there was a Christian willing to help them up and not push them further down then when those few renegade groups acted stupid people would know that they are an isolated case.

But the problem is we have stopped loving our neighbor. We have created a holy clique and we have made Christianity more about what we are against than who we are for. I am all for laws that are based on God’s laws, but if we don’t stop trying to legislate Christianity and start trying to love people we will never actually make a difference in this world. Having a rally and making people out to be the enemy may get a law passed, but it won’t make an actual difference. Loving the people that you are passing laws against and treating them like they are people too will.

We are killing this “Christian” nation not because we aren’t boycotting Hollywood or marching on city hall. We are killing this nation because we as Christians have forgotten how to love.

(This whole rant was started by this video. I think Luce does a good job, but I don’t know if sending teenage students to protest in the middle of San Fran was his best idea. It wouldn’t make as much news, but sending students to serve (and I think they may have done that too) would have a better chance to actually impact our nation.)

20 thoughts on “Christians on TV

  • April 3, 2006 at 11:45 PM
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    Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it. I disagree a little with this rant. I agree that we have the wrong people speaking for us but I don’t agree that the church is not showing love. We could do better but we do pretty well. Hurricane Katrina is an example. Many Christains are still there working to rebuild. I have heard from many people working in that area that said the churches are the one doing all the work. If people need help there they go to a church. I have also seen this working with homeless people in Washington, DC. The people who are feeding these people are Christain churches and they do it every day. We just don’t get the good publicity that we deserve. We rarely see the good work that we do on tv or in newspapers.
    God Bless!
    Shawn

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  • April 4, 2006 at 4:25 AM
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    I think there are some Christians doing some great work, and no they don’t get much credit. I have met Christians who worked in the AIDS wards of hospitals when no one else would go near them. And there are tons of Christians doing lots of great stuff right now around the world and here at home.

    But can you honestly say that most churches are focused on showing love? I think most churches are more focused on trying to win converts and increase membership than they are in just reaching out and loving people. (I know that many times I fall in this trap as does my church)

    We have to stop transforming love from a go to it event (Let’s take a mission trip and help THOSE people) and transform it into our daily walk living (Let me get up today and help the people I see around me.)

    It is that sort of love, the reaching out to your neighbor love, not with an agenda, but with the heart of God love that will change the world. It is also I believe the love that most churches are lacking. I know that Christianity is better than its public face, but I also know too many Christians who would rather debate politics than actually reach out and help someone in need.

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  • April 4, 2006 at 3:30 PM
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    Although I would in no way deny that Christians could be more loving, I don’t think that’s why we are "hated." I think scripture clearly told us this would happen, so why should we expect anything different?

    The real reason why people reject us is because they reject God. People are naturally sinful and opposed to God. Even if all Christians could love everyone perfectly, I’d be willing to bet that we’d still be in the same place we are now. Showing more love won’t change the fact that people’s hearts are naturally set against God and His principles for daily living.

    As Christians, we’ve have sat around on our hands long enough. We’re so passive and, in the name of loving people, tollerate repulsive sin. We can love people without condoning the sin. It’s the sin we need to stand against, not the individuals themselves.

    I have a video that Teen Mainia made while down on the street in San Fransico. They were totally loving on the counter-prostestors. I’ll get it published on my blog sometime tonight or tomorrow.

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  • April 4, 2006 at 4:26 PM
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    I agree the the Teen Mania people were doing some good. But I also think that "standing against the sin" has resulted in a whole lot of Christians condeming people that aren’t like them.

    Jesus had some harsh words for sinner, but if you notice the "sinners" that he really spoke against were the ones who thought they were religious. The ones that everyone believed were wrong he went out of his way to make feel loved.

    I think it is the Holy Spirit’s job to deal with sin. Our job is to love others and proclaim the truth. God is big enough to convict. Actually the remarkable thing is that one of the reasons that Christians aren’t liked is that people already know in their hearts that they are wrong. The are fighting hard trying to act like what they are doing is OK, but they know it is wrong so they rage against those who they believe make them feel that way.

    So as Christians we should go to these people who already know they are wrong and who are hurting about it and show them the grace and love of Christ. That would make a difference.

    Just once I want to see a Christian on TV raging agaist a sin that is common in churches instead of one that "THOSE" people commit. Can you imagine someone up in arms and protesting gossip and greed or how about apathy. If we could stamp out those 3 things in our churches this country would be a more "Christian" nation. I think that would make a bigger difference than stamping out gay marriage.

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  • April 4, 2006 at 5:30 PM
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    "Just once I want to see a Christian on TV raging agaist a sin that is common in churches instead of one that "THOSE" people commit."

    Amen! All of this definitely starts with us. We need to take care of the plank in our own eye before we judge the speck in someone else’s.

    I think the biggest statement we can make is not necessarily to stand against people’s positions on issues, but to stop giving in to the sin we’re supposed to stand against. Last night I posted a long entry on my blog on this very subject. Instead of giving in and absorbing all the gossip, pride, gluttony, apathy, sexual humor, foul language, etc, what if Christians everywhere just cleaned up their act and lived the holy lives to which we’re called? If a million Christians refused to watch certian TV programs or read certian magazines, that would be the biggest statement we could make, just by living in righteousness. Aren’t we already commanded in scripture to do this anyway?
    —————————–

    "But I also think that "standing against the sin" has resulted in a whole lot of Christians condeming people that aren’t like them."

    Hmmm… I dunno about that. If I take a stand against gay marriage in this country, I don’t think I’m condemning those who condone it, I’m only condeming the lifestyle. Maybe unsaved people aren’t able to make that distinction, though, and they perceive my stance against gay marrigae to be against them personally. I don’t really know how to address this, but I don’t think it requires that I drop my stance against gay marriage.

    (Helpful debate, by the way. Thanks for raising the issue and making us think through this!)

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  • April 4, 2006 at 9:50 PM
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    Shane,

    You mentioned that we should love people without an agenda. Although that sounds great, I have to respectfully disagree. I think we MUST have an agenda. If I show love to a person without telling them that they are sinners in need of a savior, I really haven’t loved them at all, in view of eternity. I think we should always be looking to share the Word and the Truth with those that we are loving on, else all our love is in vain. And, for lost souls, the Truth involves telling them that they are sinners, it’s the very basics of the Gospel.

    Now, with that in mind, yes, I think we can do it with love, and compassion, and understanding, not like a guy standing on a box in the middle of a college campus screaming at people to repent. However, this doesn’t negate the fact that we are commanded to spread the Good News.

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  • April 5, 2006 at 7:46 PM
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    "the Truth involves telling them that they are sinners, it’s the very basics of the Gospel" Andy Crouch

    A CONVERSATION FROM THE BIBLE…

    Some people who didn’t get it: "Uh…Jesus we were having a discussion about what’s the greatest commandment? Can you tell us what your thoughts are?"

    Jesus: "Yeah! Love God and Love People. This pretty much is the Law."

    Some people who didn’t get it: "HUH?"
    ____________________________________________________

    I’m so tired of Christians defending hatred because of this idea that we need to tell people they are sinners. THEY KNOW THAT ALREADY. Don’t you think Homosexuals already knows what the bible says about Gay’s? Come on people Jesus’ harshest words were always for the people who distorted the Law of God to lessen people. The message of the Gospel is not "your a sinner". The message of the Gospel is "inspite of your sinfulness I LOVE YOU!"

    Instead of saying "you’re going to hell" why don’t we start showing people that God wants them to be whole on earth and passionately following him. Not just some law-abiding-church going-religious zealot.

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  • April 6, 2006 at 4:03 AM
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    UUhhh…..OK. Where do I start…..

    1) In no way did I defend hatred. I didn’t even mention hatred. If by ‘hatred’ you mean telling sinners that they are sinners, I prefer to use a different term for that – "Truth".

    2) No, I don’t think that lost people know that they are sinners. Knowing what the Bible says on a topic and accepting it is two totally separate things. Can those who commit homosexual acts read a Bible and know that it says that what they are doing is wrong? Sure. Do they accept that it’s wrong and repent of it? No, not usually. Rather, they claim that ‘right’ is whatever works for them, and that no one is to judge then for that. There’s no room in the Bible for moral relativism.

    3) What distortion of the Word are you speaking of? Romans 3:23 is fairly clear. Does it lessen people? Yes, it sure does. And it should. We aren’t God, we’re sinners. Jesus condescended to us because we indeed are lesser than Him.

    4) True, the message of the Gospel is not "you’re a sinner." It’s the fact that we ARE sinners that makes the Gospel so important to us. Until a person realizes that they are sinners and out of God’s favor because of that fact, the Gospel is completely irrelevant to them. Those that don’t think they need ‘saving’ could care less if there’s a Savior. It’s meaningless to them. How do you convince a lost person to accept salvation without first convincing him that he is lost?

    5) I’m not saying to anyone that "you’re going to hell." God said that. We’re just supposed to be messengers, and teach the whole counsel of the Scriptures. Teaching only of Christ’s merciful, gracious love, and leaving out God’s righteous wrath on sin, is a grave disservice to those that don’t believe. Luke 13:3 "…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." It’s sin that we are to repent of, nothing else. We can’t experience the fullness of God’s love, muchless everlasting life, without repentance of our sins.

    6) I must believe that none of the above is news to a believer. Are there different ways of disceminating these truths in kind, loving, articulate manners? Sure there are! We should be contextually and culturally relevant, but the ‘styles’ in which we do this shouldn’t override the ‘truth’ that we are to share. In a nutshell, we are sinners, Christ, fully God and fully man, came to earth, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death as a propitiation for the sins of those who would believe, rose to life, and offers that same everlasting life to all that believe on Him. Now, how we share this can be in a condemning fashion or in a spirit of love and truth…I, and I presume you do as well, prefer the latter. We aren’t condemners, that falls under God’s authority. Preach and teach the Word, all of it. That’s our responsibility.

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  • April 6, 2006 at 12:23 PM
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    sorry for another post!

    But the link I posted is also the same church (if you watch the news scroll in the video) that is protesting funerals around the country saying that "soldiers dying is Gods punishiment for homosexuality"

    So to quote Rob Bell "my problem is that we all get painted with the same brush"

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  • April 6, 2006 at 12:06 PM
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    Andy,

    I appreciate your response. A couple of thoughts…

    I was referring to the Jerry Falwells of the world who make statements that say "9/11 happened because of homosexuals" That is hatred; whether stated or implied it’s hatred. I believe that you are not motivated from hatred.

    Secondly, Should not our message be more about love and less about condemnation?

    I’m no fan of sin and I believe that many people are trapped by it. But I don’t believe that homosexuality is the unpardonable sin that most christians make it out to be. We as christians (pariticularly me)like to rank sin because it makes us feel better about ourselves. Truth be known God sees it all the same. Lying, Fornicating, Gossip, Hatred, etc… It’s all seperation from him.

    Recently I spoke at a local high school about evangelism to the bible club there. One young lady said it’s tough to be at a table hearing your friends talk about sex and tell them that sex outside of marriage is WRONG. I suggested that her presentation should not be sex outside of marriage is wrong rather it should be that sex inside of marriage is better because of Gods design.

    Anyways I know that was rambling but my message is that we should not rally against a sin unless we are willing to love them through and not just through stones. That doesn’t help anyone; Christians and Non-Christians (I prefer non-christian over sinners because I’m still one)

    By the way tell me if this website helps anyone understand the amazing power of Christ’s love.
    http://www.godhatesfags.com/memorial.html

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  • April 6, 2006 at 9:00 PM
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    Forgive me, I may ramble, but there are so many things to comment on. Each and every day I am deeply saddened and troubled by the face of Christianity on TV. It has become the business of making people feel better about themselves only by pointing the finger at some one else. I now hate the word righteous because it has become so distorted. Distorted to the point that we forget that we are only made righteous by God, that we cannot be righteous in our own right. Not in what we do, what we say, what we even know.

    I am sad to see so much written about telling people they are sinners. I agree with the post that said people already know they are sinners. I am a sinner and even knowing the gospel, I still do the same things again and again. But that’s the point isn’t it? I can’t do it on my own. I have to repeatedly ask for help. If it were all up to me, I would always fall short of the mark.

    I don’t like when people pull a bible verse out of context. Personally, I think you have to read the Bible as a whole and not take it in pieces (we can make it justify anything when we do this.) And even Paul warned us against this. So I am going to comment on the reference of Romans 3:23 which says "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Definately missing something there. If you take the more of the passage (really read the whole thing, but I will be selective here)22b-25"For there is no distinction since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith." That is the gospel. It’s a gift. Start there, not with the sin. Afterall, Jesus did. Read through your gospels, Jesus always presented the promise of God’s kingdom before asking for repentance.

    The public face of Christianity has become exactly what Jesus railed against. The religious people who knew absolutely and were sure they were in a position to condemn others were the ones that Jesus spent most of his ministry working against. We need more people who understand that Jesus set loving your neighbor as yourself above all other commandments. He didn’t save love them only if… He didn’t say make sure they are saved and that’s how you love some one. He just said love them. I beg of every Christian, stop worrying so much about whose saved and who isn’t. Teach them through action first, then listen to people and their story, then speak to them about the good news of Christ and the gospel’s affect on your life. You cannot teach anyone anything if you nevered really listened to them in the first place. God will do all of this. He will work through you, if you get out the way and let Him.

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  • April 6, 2006 at 9:35 PM
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    I just had a teenager leave my office. She is not a Christian, and does not want to be. But I know that Jesus is doing something in her life. Why? About once a month she shows up at my office, just to talk. She never stays long, but always long enough for me to say a prayer for her. She is just one of a handful of students who know that no matter how bad they screw up, or how many times they get arrested, my door is open to them. Whether Jesus will use me to lead them to salvation, or I am just planting seeds, I don’t know. I am just honored that He has chosen to use me in His work.

    It is not my job to convince her that she is a sinner, or that she needs to be saved (as was stated a couple of posts up.). She knows the things she does are wrong, and I’ve never told her. Something inside her knows, and she can’t explain why. Even though she wants to do good, she does not feel like she can. Sounds like the beginning of Mere Christianity, huh?

    It is also not my job to convince a lost person they need salvation and I have the recipe to give it to them. Salvation comes from God alone and when the Spirit is drawing someone to Him, we need to be His available instruments ready for use and service.

    I love what Shane said about it being the Holy Spirit’s job to deal with sin. Why would we actually think we can do a better job?

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  • April 6, 2006 at 11:39 PM
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    Anyone ever read the story in "Blue like Jazz" about the confession booth? Seems appropriate for this thread.

    Anyways! Love the book…don’t agree with everything but loved it anyway.

    Jen….AMEN!!!
    Shane…I’m praying for you!!!!
    Andy…Love your blog! Especially the telephone repair guy!

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  • April 7, 2006 at 2:50 AM
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    OK, I’m obviously in the minority on this…I can deal with that, it’s nothing new for me. However, I would like to take up just a bit more room on Shane’s blog here to clarify a few things.

    First off, explaining to someone that they are sinners is not ‘hatred.’ It’s just a simple fact…the sky is blue, water is wet, iPods are cool. All non-negotiables. But it isn’t hatred. In certain contexts it may be inconsiderate, unneeded, or impolite, but it isn’t hatred. We, as Christians, should hate sin, not sinners. We are to love others, but we aren’t allowed to condone sin. That would be a grave disservice to them, but even moreso to Jesus, who died for that very sin.

    Second, I don’t understand the common thread in the past few comments, excluding my own, about just loving people and being there for them in times of crisis and need, but not having a compulsion to share with them the great news that Christ the Savior died for our sins, and by believing in him we can have eternal life. Am I misunderstanding this, or am I on track with that? Justin, have you shared the Gospel with the young lady that was in your office this afternoon? If so, how did it go? If not, why? Jen, do you really think that we as Christians shouldn’t concern ourselves with who is saved and who isn’t? How are unbelievers to know the Truth unless we tell them? I hope that I am misunderstanding what I am reading, I really do.

    Third, I agree that we should love others, I don’t think any of us here have issues with that. Some people understand that they are sinners, some do not. Some, upon having that realization, understand that there is ultimate judgment for that sin, others do not. Some understand that the judgment is impending and choose to ignore it, and some are so convicted by it that they choose Christ. However, NO ONE chooses Christ without first being told about Him. God allows us to share this Good News with all who will listen. It’s not a ‘have to’ situation, but if your heart is right, it will be a ‘want to’ situation. We should WANT to share our faith, not withhold it because it might offend someone.

    Again, I truly hope that the message I’m hearing in these comments isn’t that we shouldn’t share the Gospel with others. Jen had it right earlier, Romans 3:23 really doesn’t give the full measure of the Gospel, you do have to read the entire passage. But when you read it, you see words like ‘justified’ and ‘atonement’ and ‘grace’ and ‘redemption’. Just those three verses are wrought with language of sin that has been paid for. It’s WHY we need the Gospel. If it weren’t for sin, as I said before, we wouldn’t need justification, atonement, grace, or redemption. It all falls on the fact that we ALL are sinners. In view of that fact, actually, in spite of that fact, Jesus loved us anyway. He died for our sins…is it so bad to tell someone that? Is that hatred, or is it love?

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  • April 7, 2006 at 3:48 AM
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    Andy, thanks for your gracious response. I try to avoid conversations like this on blogs because it is so easy to type something, send it off, and for someone else to completely misinterpret your heart. I imagine if all of us were to sit down for coffee somewhere, we would find that we agree on so much more than it appears here.

    I am not sure what you mean when you ask if I have shared the gospel with the girl I mentioned. I’ve never given her a gospel tract, I have never drawn a cross and a bridge, and I have never laid out the Romans road. But my wife has given her a new testament. (Revolve I think, looks like a magazine.) She reads it, and she has questions for us, and we have questions for her. In that way, I have shared the gospel. Sometimes when we see her, she does not want to talk about Jesus, and that is ok, because the conversation always comes around to Him at some point. In that way, I have shared the gospel with her. Every time either one of us see her, we make sure we ask her what we can be praying for and ask her if we can do it right then. In that way I have shared the gospel with her. I shared the gospel with her when I told her Jesus loves her, regardless of what she has done. I shared the gospel with her today when I looked her in the eye and said when you are ready to follow Jesus; I want to be the first to know. She smiled and turned and walked away.

    Of course she must be told about Jesus in order to accept him, but salvation is God’s job, not mine. I just trust that one day she (along with other non-Christian students in town I pour my life into) will show up at my door and say “I’m ready.” Not because she was pressured, not because I played on her emotions, not because I threatened her with hell; but because the Holy Spirit draws her.

    Just the thought makes me smile. When that does happen, you all will know it!

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  • April 7, 2006 at 4:00 AM
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    If there is one phrase that over the past few years I have learned to be hurtful it is “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I have grown up in church my whole life so I get the idea behind this. I understand the beautiful story of redemption that God set in motion before time began. I also understand that sin in serious business, and that to God it deserves death. I know that.
    But the more I have said that same phrase and thought these same thoughts I have to think if I didn’t grow up knowing those things then this statement would offend me to the core, especially is the sin in question was something that I found to be essential to who I am. I have been thinking a lot about it and I would be pretty upset if someone said, I love church people, but I hate the fact that they are Christians.
    But that is my own new personal pet peeve. I do actually have something relevant to say to sort of tie all of these things together. (Check out the It’s Personal entry for more insight as well).

    When it comes to reaching out to others I have learned one important thing. There are no black and white answers. While my Southern Baptist upbringing would like to argue differently. Everyone encounters God in a unique way through God’s unique timing. Everyone who comes to God must come through Jesus, but the way that God speaks to each of us and draws each of us is unique. (I don’t think any of you heard God speak through a burning bush or the mouth of a donkey) So there is no formula that equals success with God. That means that every situation must be handled in a unique fashion and we must truth the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know how to handle that situation.

    There are people that I have ministered to for a long time before I ever started talking to about their life with God. I don’t know how to explain it, but I understood that to come at them with an agenda of anything other than just hanging out with them would end our relationship. Then there have been people that in every conversation I have with them I have shared the gospel. What I mean to say is that it isn’t black and white.

    The other thing I want to point out is that I have been a Christian for 25 years and have been in ministry for almost 10 and I still don’t have a good definition of what Salvation is, how you get it, and how you can know you have it. I mean I know the things that we have learned all our lives, and I believe them to be true, but what does praying a prayer have to do with Lordship? And in order to become a Christian do I have to sit down and make a list of everything that I have done wrong and ask specifically for forgiveness of each sin? What if there are some things that I don’t realize are sins? Can I still be a Christian if I don’t understand all of what living that Christ means?

    I think there is the heart of this argument for me. I know beyond a doubt that when I was small (I know it is hard to believe I ever was) I felt God’s call on my life and I said to him with all of the conviction an elementary school student could muster that I wanted to follow him. I didn’t know what all that meant, but I knew that was what I wanted.

    Now after years of walking with Jesus I have a better understanding of what that means. There are things that I would never do now that I did openly and willingly a few years ago because I now see that they are wrong. As a Christian I have learned to see God and follow God and godly men and women have helped me to see the sin in my life and turn it over to God.

    But that came after I became a Christian. I don’t think that we need to understand everything we are doing wrong before we come to God. It is enough to understand that we aren’t perfect and we have messed up, and I think most importantly no matter how hard we try we can’t save ourselves. I think if someone understands this even if he or she doesn’t quite know all of the things that the Bible says is right or wrong then than can find God and be transformed by him. Then over the course of their lives they can learn more and more what the Bible says and line their lives up accordingly.

    That is what I believe that openly gay people can become Christians just like I believe that people who cheat on their taxes, but don’t see anything wrong with it can become a Christian. For me our role in their lives before they turn their life over to God is to love them and share with them the awesome love of God that is available for them, and the cleansing that he offers. If someone doesn’t understand that they need to be clean (even if they don’t see all of the same things as sin as the Bible does they can still see that they need to be clean, but if they don’t) then no amount of talk on my part is going to help them to see that. I have never met anyone who thought they were perfect that you could talk into believing that they aren’t.

    Once they become a Christian then it is our job to mentor them and disciple them and help them to see what the Bible says is right and wrong and share with them God’s path. I like to use the story of the woman caught in adultery. First Jesus said “neither do I condemn you” in other words you were a sinner, but I have let you off of your punishment. And then He says, “Go and sin no more.” Once she was forgiven He calls her to live a different life.

    But for some reason we have gotten those things in reverse.

    So here is the crux if you just scrolled down to the end to see what I am saying.
    1) There are lots of grey areas when it comes to being a Christian
    2) You don’t have to know all of what you are doing wrong to know that you need a savior
    3) Everyone’s journey to God (through Jesus) is different
    4) Most people understand that they aren’t perfect and that they can’t save themselves. Those who don’t understand that cannot be talked into understanding it.
    5) Love people unconditionally before they become a Christian. Love them unconditionally after they become a Christian too—do this by helping them to line their life up with the Bible.

    Wow, all those words for something that can be summed up in 5 sentences. You gotta love us English majors.

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  • April 7, 2006 at 12:09 PM
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    Andy, Jen, Justin, Shane,

    Much like Justin said while this is a tough conversation to have over a blog; I believe that it’s important. I also agree that if we could find the geographic center of where we all live and meet for coffee we would all agree more than disagree.

    I rejoice that the one coherent theme is that we all have a passion for the lost. Each of us in our own unique ways share the gospel. Andy, I believe that much of what was said was misunderstood.

    Thank you everyone for the dialogue.

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  • April 7, 2006 at 3:16 PM
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    I sort of feel like this conversation has wrapped up, but I thought I’d respond to some of what was directed towards me. I also agree that things can get lost in translation and that we would probably enjoy sitting and talking things out. Things are gray, and that’s part of what makes things interesting. Each person has a unique perspecetive and their own twist to add to the story. I firmly believe that is how it was meant to be.

    I am with Shane in questioning what the definition of"salvation" really is. But I do agree with Justin that salvation is God’s job, not mine. I am only here to be a humble servant. Let me give an example.

    In college I met a man named Matt who did not believe in God. He did when he was younger, but his parents were driven away from the church before he was born and so they did not attend church. When Matt was in high school he decided to go to church on his own. Everyone there preached AT him in absolutes. When he tried to ask questions, he was rebuffed and told he wasn’t allowed to question God. He just had to accept everything he was told. The part Matt added was "or get out," but really that is the message they were sending so Matt left and never went back. Over time of hearing the rhetoric, he decided there wasn’t a God. When I met Matt, I was surprised to find out he didn’t believe in God because he was one of the most "Christian" people I had ever met (basing this on his actions and attitudes). We began to talk. I didn’t try to convince him there was a God. I didn’t try to tell him he had to believe in Jesus. I listened. I talked about my life and how I believed that God was using me. I never once pressured him. I never told him he had to believe or go to hell. I never did anything but listen, talk (not ever preach), and love him. He does believe in God. He attends church with me every Sunday. He is not sure of who Jesus really is, and I don’t intend to pressure him on that issue either. My mom thinks that Matt is more of a Christian than most of the people that she sits in church with each Sunday. Isn’t it sad that there are still people in the world who would assume they are better because they are sure of who Jesus is, even though Matt is more engaged in the study of the Bible and religious thought than many? Matt does follow in Christ’s example of how to live and treat others. Really I don’t think we so much as choose Christ as he claims us. by the way, I loved Matt so much that I married him. We have a beautiful son who we are raising in the light of Christ. God can work in powerful and mysterious ways that are simply not up to us. Matt is a child of God as much as I am, as much as our son is, and I know God is working through Matt. He doesn’t need all the answers for that to happen. And I thank God that none of us need all the answers because none of us has them. Where would we be if we had to have the absolute black and white truth?

    Spreading the gospel is often times more effective when we do that through action. When we do that through listening to an individual rather than coming with a prepared message. So many people God used had no clue what to say, but when the time came and the moment was right, the Spirit empowered them. That’s what I pray for, to be open to God’s will and not to impose my own. And that is probably the hardest thing…

    I thank you for listening. Shane, thank you for reminding us that we are called to work as Jesus did, with individuals, approaching them in individual ways. I know we all have love in our hearts or we wouldn’t even be engaged in this conversation.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2006 at 3:47 PM
    Permalink

    You are all so cool. I love comments, especially touchy-feely-let’s-all-get-along ones. We should do this more often.

    Reply

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