I remember a few years back I found myself unable to sleep one night so got up and turned on the TV. The only thing on other than those annoying infomercials was a prominent U.S. Pastor. Some of what he said was great, but after a while he took a turn for the worst and joined the rest of mindless television by having his own little infomercial of sorts. There was this great spiel on how this guy was furthering the good news of Jesus by preaching and how he wanted to take ‘his ministry’ all over the world, but in order to do so he needed some astronomical ridiculous amount of money to by his own personal jet so that he could “preach the gospel to the ends of the earth”.
Argh! What was THAT? And why do people support this guy? My little car isn’t doing so great at the moment; maybe a few of you wouldn’t mind contributing to a new BMW for me so that I can feed the poor in Dandy? What a ridiculous concept!
But it doesn’t stop there, about six months ago (can’t believe I’m ‘outing myself’ on this one) I caught an episode of “Wife Swap“, the American TV show where two families, from completely opposite sides of the track, swap the matriarch of their households, who spend a week experiencing life in their counterpart’s home. Anyhoo, in this episode, one of the women was a Christian, and the other was an holistic healer/earth worshiper. The long and the short of it was that the second lady was absolutely lovely, very gentle, very sweet, very caring, very generous toward the Christian family and the Christian lady was incredibly selfish, self-righteous, and judgemental. Not only that, but her Christian friends were completely horrid to their guest, one lady bailing her up and badgering her regarding her relationship with “the Lord”. When she didn’t get the required response she gave her friends a smug, “see, she’s not saved” look and walked off. They were absolutely dreadful to this peaceful lady who came into their community for a week.
I did feel sorry for the Christian lady, she was totally out of her depth and reacted primarily out of fear when she realised she was staying with a family who had a massive pentagram in their backyard and who celebrated the summer solstice with a pagan party, she was also included in a talk-back radio station with a clairvoyant – which she walked out on. This was all the stuff, and the type of people she’d been taught not to interact with.
The point being of course, that she was totally ill-equipped to relate with these completely lovely people. In all her bible study and church going, she’d learnt that this stuff was evil, and to stay away from people who practice it “or else”. She was rebuking stuff left right and centre for fear of contamination! Obviously nobody had ever adequately explained to her that these are people that Jesus died for, that Father loves them and that He who is in her, is far greater than stuff behind their pagan worship. She had nothing to fear at all.
I was cringing as I watched. I was appalled and so embarrassed for all concerned. Embarrassed for the lady who had just been so un-sanctimoniously rejected by the Christians, and also for these ladies who have been taught that Christianity is a label that they can wear and it’s enough to make them feel safe and secure and better than those who are yet to meet Jesus. It seemed they’d not only missed the point (and a fantastic opportunity) but portrayed the complete opposite of who they claimed to trust their lives to. And once again it had happened on television for all to see – which of course was the point of the show.
It’s easy, of course, to judge these people, I did it readily enough. The truth is though, that there have been times when I have used my “Christian” status to my own advantage. In some ways it’s like a ‘free pass’ into a club. A club that is full of people who (for the most part) accept us, and reassure us that we’re okay, and who are kind, loving, and accepting.
Unfortunately though, generally speaking, Christians aren’t always sure how to interact with people outside our club, who aren’t like ‘us’ and who don’t believe the same things. Sharing the gospel has become a scary prospect; what if we’re rejected? What if we stuff up? What if we don’t get all the facts right about Jesus and they ask us a really difficult question, and the Pastor doesn’t answer his mobile phone or isn’t available to meet with our friend for coffee and a quick conversion???
I think that’s why people give financially to the aforementioned ‘pastor’ – he has, after all, been ’empowered’ to reach the lost, and to preach the gospel. It’s easier to pay him to do it and to get caught up in all the hype that surrounds ‘his ministry’ then to face the inevitable rejection.
I also think it’s why a lot of us keep to ourselves, stay within our own little Christian groups and don’t mix very well with non-believers or why we often pretend to be something we’re not (ie. morally), because we want them to come to know Jesus like we do.
Of course, we do tend to know an awful lot about God, and the way he wants us to live our lives. I wonder though if we don’t know Him enough to trust Him to lead us (just like we expect He does with our pastors etc) as we walk this stuff out with the people around us… you know… as a priesthood of believers? There’s nothing better than getting to know him and learning to trust him as we ‘go’, for ourselves.
There really is no substitute!