I got into a conversation last night after a Montreat College basketball game that hasn't left me yet. Granted, it was at 11:00 last night when I had this conversation, and I got up for work at 5:45 this morning, so not a great deal of time has passed for me to forget said conversation. But, even had we talked about this weeks ago, I still would be thinking about it because it involved something that I think about often, maybe even hourly.
Montreat scrimaged with Crossfire, a team of Christian men who played college ball and now go worldwide playing teams and taking halftime to share the gospel with the crowd and the other players.
Part of me is excited that people exist that want to share the gospel of Jesus with others...but another part of me wonders if this method does more harm then good. I often cringe when people get preachy in public. I think America is tired of preachers...tired of being told what to believe...tired of Christians.
What an awful thing, for a country to be tired of Christians as we are the representatives for Jesus here...we are supposed to be a blessing to the world, not a burden. We should be lights in the dark, not smoke that gets in people's eyes.
Where is the balance? How do you share Jesus in a culture that already has ideas about who Jesus is, whether they are right or not. How do you love people and not love their sin when they consider what we would call sin to be who they are...when the separation between the person and the sin doesn't exist in another's head? How do you not be overbearing? How does it all work?
I don't know...I really don't. But, I think that I might have a few ideas...like to stop talking so much and start doing. Christians talk a lot...maybe instead of talking we should start giving of our time, our energy, our love. Maybe we should begin to act like Jesus...maybe that would speak volumes? Or if we can't stop talking (I know its hard), maybe we should start apologizing...apologizing for not being like Jesus, for fighting among ourselves and outside ourselves, for being selfish, for being arrogant, for being ignorant, for the Crusades that still stick in the minds of many, especially those who worship Allah, or for being so awful towards the gay population that think Christians hate them. I don't want to hate anyone, but I do hate the idea that someone could possibly consider that I might because of what others within the church have said or done. Maybe we should apologize for loving conditionally...lets be honest--within the church we love conditionally. We easily love and uplift that talented, the good looking, the passionate...but what of the dirty, the poor, the quiet, or the liberal, the seeking, the one who might ask the questions we are all thinking but don't have the guts to voice? Do we just as readily love that person?
And maybe we should go out into our communities and the world as listeners and lovers and learners instead of arrogant fundamentalists that keep trying to tell people what to believe. At the Crossfire game, one of the speakers said that he believed in relational evangelism--that he would get to know someone for 3 or 4 minutes then share the gospel with them.
How awful! That's not loving a person or caring for their needs or figuring out where they are coming from. To me, this idea of "relational evangelism" is an escape...its a lazy man's way of keeping his hands clean lest he actually care for someone different from himself, lest he step down from his gospel pedestal and touch people. Jesus touched people. Jesus walked in the dusty roads and put his hands on the hurting and ate with the outsiders of his community. He loved in a down and dirty way--He loved honestly and without regard to Himself--He offered people something to believe in, something to connect their deepest desires to, but He didn't demand it.
He knew when to stop talking and start praying...start doing. He was relevant, and He loved.
O that we might be like Jesus...Father, make us all like Jesus.