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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|On Calling Out Our Own|
Paston John spoke this morning about an odd phenomenon: that of being able to identify the solution, while not being easily able to articulate the problem.
A little context: this sermon was one of a series about Easter--this one addressing the issue of "Why did God Forsake Jesus?" Of course, the point was not that he forsook Jesus, but rather that . . . you know, that's a conversation for another time.
But towards the end of the sermon John reiterated a point that his own son has made to him, as he went through struggles with his own Faith. And that point is this: modern Christians, in their desire to emphasize the positive, are very adept at identifying the solution. That is, salvation through Faith,that believing in God and turning our lives over to Him will bring us strength and peace of mind. Unfortunately, in this approach, modern Christians tend to forget that one of the lessons of the Gospel, and of Paul's life, and many others, is that such Faith often demands extraordinary sacrifice, and even suffering.
I'm not entirely sure why this lesson got juxtaposed in my mind this morning with this story, but it did:
COLORADO SPRINGS - Ten members of a Topeka, Kan., church famous for its demonstrations against the gay community received a rude welcome when they picketed Palmer High School Friday morning.
More than 500 people turned out with banners and chants to condemn the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrators as messengers of hatred, not Christian love. . .
On a swatch of public sidewalk, relatives of church pastor Fred Phelps, who was not present, raised their signs proclaiming, "God Hates Fags," and depicting silhouetted human figures in the act of sodomy.
Now, I know many of you might be thinking to yourself that I'm heading towards a lauding of these members of the Kansas church for taking it onto themselves to go into hostile territory to deliver a message--in effect, for taking on suffering for the sake of Christ.
And, you would be wrong. What I'm doing is actually taking a chance of putting myself in that same boat with members of my own (aleit loosely affiliated) Christian community.
First of all, I find it remarkably arrogant that any peoples, much less those who should be duly humbled before God, purport to speak for God. And in such a manner so completely contrary to the message of the Gospel. As I read it--and, mind you, I'm no theologian--it seems that the whole purpose of Christ's life was to demonstrate God's extraordinary love for all men, even and especially, sinners. Why should God love me with all my faults, weaknesses and sins, but hate people who are gay? It is a non-sensical argument, and one that denies the lessons of the gospel.
But more importantly, I think it is incumbent on those of us who would be grouped with these members of this Kansas church to disassociate ourselves from their message. Not for personal gain, or for a false air of righteousness, but because the best message we have is the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ--not the hatred and rebuke of our brothers. That message will constantly be drowned out by the noise of these who speak of hate, especially as amplified by the mainstream media. I, for one, denounce the tactics and message of the Westboro Baptist Church.
What does that have to do with problems and solutions? First, I hope to focus on the solution--God's healing love. Do not deliver scorn and hate when we should be preaching love, forgiveness and repentance. And secondly, I hope to try to identify a problem in the hopes of putting it in the open and letting us talk about it in a way that does not cause our target audience to dismiss us.
After all, it's pretty difficult to reach out a hand of evangelism when that hand is clenched in a fist.