Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bible Thumpers and Building Bombers

Boy I'm tired of these guys. Combating this image of Christianity is a lot of what Spirit Blade Productions is about. The trend of megaphone wielding street evangelists has been around for a long time. And I'm not sure it's ever been very effective.

"Christians" justifying hate or violent and cruel behavior with the use of scripture has been around for even longer, one of the most horrific examples being the crusades and a more recent example being the bombing of abortion clinics.

What does the Bible have to say about this behavior? Can any of this really be endorsed by the words of God?

The Bible is littered with commands to teach the truth to everyone in the world. But right now we'll just look at what's become known as "The Great Commission". Here, we see that evangelism is commanded by Jesus.

Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of 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.

The Greek word used here for "make disciples" is Matheteuo, and it means: To instruct with the purpose of making disciples.

Also packed into the definition of this word is the meaning of "disciple": One who learns from and becomes attached to one's teacher through following doctrine and conduct of life.

Notice the order that Jesus places his instruction in. First, we are to explain truth to people, in the hope that they will become believers in Christ. It is not until they have become "disciples" that we should make an effort to hold them accountable to obeying Jesus. (While they, in turn, will now also hold us accountable.)

So, to stand on a street corner and yell out, "This is wrong and that is wrong! Stop doing these things!" is ridiculous. Because if someone does not believe that Jesus is God and that obedience to him is important, they have no logical reason to agree with the "Bible Thumper's" statements.

First, we need to present Jesus to them. We can certainly talk about the concepts of sin, as taught by Jesus and the rest of the Bible, but until someone chooses to place faith in Jesus, they have no reason to obey him.

So then, the question remains, how do we present Jesus to people? This is an endless pursuit that contains no single magical formula. But we can find some clear guidelines in the Bible.

1. Meet people where they are at. (Acts 17:21-28, 1 Corinthians 9:20-23) If you hang out with people who dig philosophy or comparitive religion, go buy a textbook (and not just some comparitive pamphlet at a Christian bookstore) and learn about some of the diverse religious and philosophical concepts that exist. Don't use churchy language, but try to speak about biblical truth using terms that are normal and down to earth. If you both like movies, use examples from movies. (My personal choices include The Matrix Trilogy, Superman Returns, and more recently Pan's Labrynth.)

2. Have genuine compassion for the people you're talking to. (2 Timothy 2:25-26) Be intelligent without being forceful. (Colossians 4:5-6) In high school I often thought that I could "debate someone into belief". I had my arguments down to a science and at lunch-time a circle would sometimes develop around me as I debated multiple students at once. But even as I successfully defeated every argument presented, my "opponents" walked away frustrated with me. We listened to each other only enough to formulate our next clever response. They didn't hear the truth I was presenting and I didn't learn anything more about where they were coming from.

I wish so much that I could go back in time and show more love and invest more time and interest in just one of them, rather than waste my time poisoning many of them against the truth.

3. LOVE them! (1 Corinthians 13:1-7) Not just a superficial love until they become a Christian and then you free yourself to go and "love" someone else. REALLY love them. (1 John 3:18) Hang out with them and talk to them(and not just about God, please). Invest in their life regardless of whether or not they seem to be "coming around". Maybe God has gifted you in incredible ways to teach the truth. Maybe you feel nervous and uncomfortable just saying "Jesus" out loud. In either case, love is more important than anything, and will speak volumes about Jesus. And without it, we're at risk of being like the Bible Thumpers, poisoning people against the truth that they need more than anything.

-Paeter Frandsen

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree. Extremists for any cause always end up doing more damage than good. I was driving down the freeway the other day and saw a sign with a picture of a cross and the words "Fear Him" written underneath. I don't think that is the message God wants to get across. Jesus taught us love, honor and respect. Not to fear. Messages like that just turn people away from Christianity and give Christians a bad rep.