>I recently read a book that stirred me to do something I haven’t done before. The book is called LORD SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS – Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America? by Dan Merchant
The book was inspired by a bumper sticker which was on a car parked in a church parking lot. I am not going to write a review on the book, however I found it very enlightening and actually it challenged me to look at my own life.
Dan Merchant put on a jump suit covered in all sorts of religious bumper stickers and hit the streets of NYC. He asked people five questions to which were geared at finding out what people think about God, Creation, Christianity and the political culture war. Their responses were amazing.
As the political wars heat up in our nation, people are watching the church. One man’s answer to one of the questions really struck me. He was asked about if he likes Christians. His response spiked my interest! Here is his answer–“Yeah I do like the red letter Christians”. Dan asked, “What do you mean by that, who are they?” The man answered, “They do what Christ has taught them, and they act like Him. This is what I think being a Christian is, isn’t it?”
The young man talked about all the angry, harsh, judgemental voices who say they speak for Christ. Interestingly enough, he is not a Christian. People are listening to what we do and say and these interviews prove that it’s true. Jesus is not political… He is not Republican or Democrat. He would probably be considered a moderate. Anyway, moving on… I decided that I need to read the red letters in my bible.
In the Plethora of knowledge and information being slammed at us, it is easy to forget what Christ said about many things. Over the last decade, I have walked through some very interesting places. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many of God’s people who by our standards are successful. I have learned a great deal from these pillars in the church and stay close to the foundations of faith they have laid in my life. However, I find myself desiring to go back to the beginning; to where it all started for me, because it was there that I found a freshness, a new birth and newness of life. The sweet experience of drawing close to Him, coming to meet Him without any agenda. Just simply to sit and be in His presence. He was the focus, not me and not the teachings of current human leaders.
The red letters continue speaking to us today. Man is still flesh and blood. We deal with the sin nature every day. Just because we are Evangelicals, Full Gospel, Charismatic, Word of Faith, Reformed, Methodist… (the list goes on), doesn’t mean that we can’t be seduced by the power of dogmatic religion. Because we ARE human, we are still very susceptible to becoming HYPOCRITES in the worst way. Hypocrisy is what Christ so vehemently opposed. Saying one thing and doing another. Professing that we love Him, yet hating, judging, condemning and rejecting others.
One powerful point that spoke to me from this book is that we have become a — BUMPER STICKER SOCIETY. Yes, Twitter, Facebook, texting, even WordPress–lol, and all the other bleeps that come across our lives everyday… We’ve become so isolated and impersonal. Dan made a great point and it is resonating in me.
“We have become a society of shout outs; we shout out complex thoughts and ideas in a short, summarized quote or sentence. We are satisfied because we think that people have heard us. We like this because we don’t want to become uncomfortable with the whole process of interacting with someone. Most people do not want dialogue, they just want a place to tell you what they think without opening to you the courtesy of a response.”
What a brilliant observation!!
I for one am just tired of it! This type of communication is creating people who do not know how to have conversation or deep shared relationship. They do not know what to do with someone who has a contrary opinion or a desire to go deeper into what you just said. They become talking heads who are more passive-aggressive in how they deal with people, and they simply do not know how to embrace those who think differently, ask questions or have opposing views.
“What Did Jesus Say?”
I desire to be like Christ, that is my goal. I might not always be who you think I should be. Oh well, Sorry, just because you don’t understand me or don’t like what I am saying does not mean that I am bad, wrong or rebellious. No sir, I am Born Again. My Father God has sealed me with His Holy Spirit and He is AT WORK IN ME causing me to grow up into His Image. I belong to Him. I belong to His body, and we; you and I, belong to each other. That settles it for me. I am inclusive not exclusive. I am like my Father. (now I am not talking about the doctrine of inclusion, don’t misunderstand me, I am talking about loving people and being open to others even if they are different than me).
Jesus warned us that the leaven of the Pharisees is Hypocrisy and just a little bit will grow and infuse the whole lump (dough or bread). Hypocrisy is birthed in pride and self-centeredness. Self absorption can be very Holier than thou and expresses it’s self in what we think looks very spiritual. The Book of James has a lot to say about that. However, humility is the true measure of spirituality. Not money, success, position, power or title.
As I was reading in Matt 5 – 7 I found the Lord’s exhortation to us …
Matthew 5:38-42 to go the extra mile.
Matthew 5:43-48 to love our enemies.
Matthew 6:1-4 don’t boast about what you are doing.
Matthew 7:1-6 don’t judge others (because you can’t see their inner motive) unless you want that same judgement.
Jesus came to a community of religious people who were self absorbed, self focused, they were the keepers of the scriptures but blind to the truth. They became very aggressive and political when he spoke to motives of the heart. He is speaking those same things to us today… How will we respond?
I’m praying to meet people who aren’t one way conversationalists, self absorbed, self promoting, egotists filled with one thing! I long for those who want to dialogue. Brethren who really want to talk and engage others, who are not afraid to discover who I am as opposed to forcing me to become who they think I should be. Christ is one of these people… He is calling us to be the same.
The Red Letters…