by John Fischer and Robbie Goldman
I opened a newsletter this morning from my good friend Robbie Goldman who heads up Dry Bones, a ministry to homeless teenagers in downtown Denver, and found a sobering conclusion to our discussions this week about Christians leading with the hellfire and brimstone message. The lead story is all about Robbie and his staff’s shock and awe over the behavior of Christian protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver earlier this summer where signs like “Ask me why YOU deserve HELL,” and “WARNING: Baby Killing Women, Party Animals, Rebellious Women, So Called Christians, Liberals, Jesus Mockers, Porno Freaks, Muslims, Drunks, Homosexuals, Sex Addicts, Mormonsâ€¦ GOD WILL JUDGE YOU!” greeted them along with insults hurled from the holders of those signs, as in “Can you even read?” and “What planet are you from?”
“We watched the spectacle with a growing sense of despair and sadness,” he wrote. “I was sick to my stomach. The scene was one of the single most heartbreaking experiences of my life.”
Examples like this may be extreme cases of misrepresenting Christ, but harboring even the slightest attitude of judgment or hatred is only a matter of being a few degrees away from this. It’s headed in the same direction. To the degree that we let any of these feelings take hold, we might as well be a sign-holding screamer of insulting epithets.
I walked away with my co-workers; some of us were crying. Others like me simply walked in silent shock. Above all the emotions â€“ sadness, anger, shame â€“ I felt something else that had a stronger pull. I was motivated and rejuvenated. More than ever I was convinced of my job, and your job, to love. We must re-define Christianity to a watching world.
“What if we became a group of people known for the way we love homosexuals? What if we became a group of people known for coming alongside those struggling with addictions? What if we became a group of people known for the way we embrace people of other religions and backgrounds? What if we became a group of people known for the way we love women who have had, or are thinking about having abortions? What if instead of calling these women murderers, we told them how much they and their children are worth? What if we decided right now, today, to adopt would-be-aborted babies? We tell young women not to have abortions, but are we willing to give them another option?”
Robbie concluded with, “I am convinced that when we love like Jesus, we are slowly but surely helping to prepare someone’s heart for God to do His work. Love well, brothers and sisters. Re-define Christ for the people in your life with love and see what happens.”
And I can’t help but think that whoever carried that sign about the Baby Killers and Porno Freaks is in for a big surprise when he is eventually welcomed into heaven by all the people his sign condemned. There will be tears.
[For more on this subject, see: “The Separation of Church and Hate: Finding the Way to Real Cultural Change” and more of my related articles for Breakpoint.org at http://www.breakpoint.org
[For more on Dry Bones, see www.drybonesdenver.org.]
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