Tuesday, October 27, 2015

From the outside in

I just started reading a book called, A More Christlike God by Bradley Jersak.  After chapter 1, so far so good.  It is very thought provoking.  A thought that this chapter provoked in my mind is how do we as Christians appear to those who aren't?  Do our words, actions, and FaceBook posts advance the Gospel or do they turn people away?

Consider this excerpt that includes a quote from Bill Maher, a famous, cynical atheist (emphasis mine):
Jesus is seldom the issue, even for a rabid, self-avowed ‘non-Christian’ such as satirist Bill Maher. His primary attacks are not against Jesus at all, but against Christians whose religion does violence in the name of the Prince of Peace. He castigates: If you’re a Christian that supports killing your enemy and torture, you have to come up with a new name for yourself. …‘Capping thy enemy’ is not exactly what Jesus would do. For almost two thousand years, Christians have been lawyering the Bible to try to figure out how ‘Love thy neighbor’ can mean ‘Hate thy neighbor.’ … But if you’re endorsing revenge, torture or war, …you cannot say you’re a follower of the guy who explicitly said, ‘Love your enemy’ and ‘Do good to those who hate you.’ … And not to put too fine a point on it, but nonviolence was kind of Jesus’ trademark—kind of his big thing. To not follow that part of it is like joining Greenpeace and hating whales. There’s interpreting, and then there’s just ignoring. It’s just ignoring if you’re for torture... You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the Cross and think, “how could a man suffer like that and forgive?” … If you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you’re not a Christian...you’re just auditing. You’re not Christ’s followers, you’re just fans."
It is easy for us to blow off people like Maher, to say that he is an atheist and just looks for ways to attack Christians and our faith.  But look at it a different way, Maher and every other non-Christian make a judgment about the Risen Lord based on our behavior.   We are supposed to be His hands and feet in the world.  You know my favorite hymn is "They will know we are Christians by our love."  What will "they" know about Christ when they see you, hear you, read your FaceBook page? Often I hear the excuse, "it was just a joke, it was meant to be funny."  When did Jesus insult or vilify others as a joke? Not to put too fine a point on it but will they be drawn to Christ or will they run away?  Will they see Christ as a loving, welcoming, forgiving God or as a mean, intolerant,spiteful God?

I have a heartfelt request for my Christian brothers and sisters.  I am particularly worried about FaceBook because the audience is so broad and often, unknown. We have all seen how things go viral, often unexpectedly by the person posting the message.

So, please, before you hit send, especially during the upcoming election season, ask yourself, "Would I post this if Jesus were my FB friend?"  "Would this post be on Jesus' wall?"  "Does this post live up to "Love your enemy..." (including those who don't agree with your position) and "do good to those who hate you." (Luke 6:27)  "Will this post bring people  to Jesus or drive them away?"

I will too.


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