Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Message

“‘Teacher’, they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her.  What do you say?’
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, stone her.   But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.  When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.” (John 8:4-9) NLT

We Christians can certainly become passionate about our beliefs.  Many of us are very passionate about political issues.  Others are very passionate about boycotting or protesting.  We can come off as argumentative, dogmatic, and preachy with little to no effort at all.  It seems justified, since we have the Creator of all things on our side.  Onward Christian Soldiers!  But the world watches and sees judgment, scorn, even hatred.  I wonder if God watches us and sees something reminiscent of these stone throwers.

I’ve known many people who are very focused on believing the right things.  We act as if our responsibility is to be right and speak that rightness out to the world.  We put little thought into the actual delivery of the message, apparently because we bear no responsibility for how that message is received.  I certainly do agree that ultimately each person is responsible for how they respond to the message of the gospel.  But shouldn’t we be delivering the message in a way that will draw people?

For those of us who are Christians, who was the catalyst for your becoming a follower of Jesus?  Who led you into a relationship with God?  Did they do it by proving their rightness to you?  Or did they leverage their relationship with you and treat you with love, respect, and understanding?  How would you have responded if they had come off as judgmental, arrogant, or dogmatic?  I fear that we push away and turn off people who may never step foot in a church because of the way they were treated by church people or because of what they’ve heard people who profess Christianity say on the radio, TV, etc.

Just what exactly is supposed to be our message to the world?  Is it things like “pornography is wrong”?  Or is it how Jesus died to save us from the penalty of our sin?  If we spent an entire lifetime focused on stopping pornography and finally the pornography industry was shut down, who would be going to heaven as a result of our efforts?  Clearly “pornography is wrong” is an important message to give to the church.  It damages the way we think about sex and it damages our ability to be intimate with our spouse the way God intended it to be.  Jesus calls his followers to be holy.  But the message to the world is somewhat different.  First we need to get them to Jesus.  Then we focus on holiness.  Trying to get the lost world to conform to God's standard of holiness is a backward implementation of what we were called to do. 

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son  and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20) NLT

Jesus is the light of the world.  It feels like we try too hard to get those in this dark world to act as if they’ve found the light even though they haven’t.  We want them to be able to navigate correctly but they can’t because they’re still in the dark.  So our solution is to become the “seeing eye dog”.  We try to lead them where we want them to go without bothering to turn the light on for them.  Maybe it makes more sense to give them light so they can actually see where they're going.

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