Wednesday, April 4, 2007

GOSPEL ABUSE: how to bring shame to the name of Christ

Yep, color me stunned. I may only be 42, but in that 42 years I've seen, heard and been through a pretty large amount of ungodly, ridiculously shameful situations. Part & parcel of living in a fallen world with fallen people, I suppose. Due to that, there really isn't much of anything anymore that stuns me. That is, until I read this tonight.

While in some ways it's almost comical in a parody sort of way, the overall feeling I had after reading and thinking about the implications was just profound sadness. You'll need to read it yourself to really "get" why I say that, but I'll assume you've already read it and just keep going here.

Some time ago I was confronted by a "street preacher" who knew I was a Christian. This man puts the A in Arrogance, and I do not say that lightly. Sure we've all got issues & weaknesses. This just happens to be his. At any rate, this man made a monumental deal out of the fact that since I don't witness on the streets, literally, like he does, that automatically means I have nothing worthwhile to say, to anyone, on any topic pertaining to the gospel. Yes, he actually said that. He's convinced that his way is THE way and if you're not on board, you're a waste of space.

Just a few days ago I read something that made me think of this guy. Someone else with the same sort of mindset that their way is the way, and your way is pointless. Both of these men are what I would call about as kind and filled with compassion as a wrecking ball being operated by a blind man having a bad hair day & acid reflux. Truly, I'm being kind when I say this.

I couldn't help but think about both of these people when I read what James wrote at his blog. I couldn't help but wonder what it's really like to have a person so filled with hate, all up in your face the way he described. I've never participated in street ministry like that (where various Christian traditions/views are present), so I don't know what it's like, first hand. I have been unsaved though, and I do know what my first reaction would be toward hate-filled, antagonistic people, getting in my face. It's the same reaction that most of us would have - some variation of shutting them out and getting on with our day. You might get someone's attention by being ugly, hateful, obnoxious and louder than everyone else with your hellfire and damnation proclamations, but it might not be the attention you were hoping for, if you get where I'm going with that. Ahem. At any rate... the thing is this:

• I've also never taught Sunday school, but I know for a fact you don't begin your lesson by slapping every person that walks through the door.

• I've never been a speaker for a women's function, but I know I wouldn't begin my session by telling them they're all fat & ugly.

• I've never been a missionary, but I know if I was, I wouldn't call the native people names if they didn't understand what I was saying.

These people that showed up in Mesa last night, screeching, hissing and spewing, clearly have no clue whatsoever what it really means to be an ambassador of Christ, to a lost world. Clearly they also have no idea what it means to practice common courtesy, civil disagreement or respect for those who have a different view. There is a vast difference between a burden for souls and a hatred for men. It's disturbing to me that some of the professing Christians in Mesa last night, were prime examples of the latter, instead of the former.

As James said on his blog, the real losers in all this are the Mormons in Mesa. It's disheartening to know solid men of God went out there to reach out and minister the gospel to them, only to be drowned out by a juvenile, shameful, Springeresque sideshow.

Yes, God is in control.

Maybe you'll all join me in praying that He might be pleased to make a way for the gospel to reach these people in AZ, in spite of the nonsense that went on last night?

I hope that you will.