Grace in a Head-butt

I come from the school of “gentle evangelism.” Don’t confront… at least too strongly. Listen and talk from a compassionate position. Always remember: the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, right? I wonder if you asked Paul this. Didn’t he get knocked off his feet? Or was it his horse… I forget.

When I shared the Good News with a room full of addicts and two nuns, I was gentle as was the rest of our team who were invited to have desert with them at their halfway house. When I visited a friend in the hospital because of knife wounds from a boyfriend, I was firm… You need Jesus as your Lord and Protector, and you need to distance yourself from your boyfriend!

Which brings up a question. What do we refuse to embrace in others? God embraces all we are in each of us. A pastor friend told me he loves us “warts and all.” Sometimes, I wish all he saw was a little wart. And sometimes, I wish all we had to embrace in others was a blemish or two.

Jude verse 23 says the Good News we share will at times be a “snatching from the fires of hell” itself. A “snatching” from imminent incineration, but gently… well, this seems a contradiction.

A friend of mine just returned to a life of drugs and left his wife and walked away from his church and walk as a disciple. How do I respond? Do I tell him that, like a “patio bug light,” he’s flying into the zap? Do I show grace in a “welcome home” or do I head-butt him?

I’m really leaning toward a head-butt.

As a gentleman

Collateral Damage

It’s almost Easter again (2013) and the Cross gets the headlines in churches and news-blogs. Most of us relegate crucifixion to the Gospels, but what about today? Men will be crucified on Good Friday in the Philippines as a sign of desperate devotion (one woman joins the parade of the crucified – her fifteenth time – hoping for a miracle for her sister.) The cross as execution tool is still used against Christians (and other betrayers) in the Muslim world. Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia and other nations have had recent crucifixions to punish the infidels.

For some, this is collateral damage to show the world that Islam rules. Or in the case of the Filipino devotees, a way to display a profane dedication to their God’s holy demands. For many, it’s a religious sideshow. For this Christ-follower, it breaks the heart.

The message of the Cross is simple, liberating, life-altering, and resolves the soul’s deepest cravings… for those who believe. For those who deny or oppose, it is a foolish thing for anyone to think God would take on the pain of the Cross for a barely worthless person. Such an idea would trip up the rationale of anyone with the sense the world gave him or her.

In some ways, the collateral damage that hurts the most is the sacrifice willingly made by the Son of God. (Maybe we should, at least around Easter, feel the pain of what God allowed in the crucifixion.)But beyond the Cross (and really for the Cross) Christ-followers have been willing to sacrifice themselves to show the message of the Cross to generations of cultures. Some have been willing participants of collateral damage, crucified or otherwise executed for the Message… a part of the legacy of getting the Good News to the world.

Collateral means parallel or alongside of, a good picture of what we as Christ-followers do in sharing the Good News with others through our lives, prayers, resources, gifts and talents… and of course, our words. But collateral also means payment or bond or guarantee (as in bail money).

The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the bond paid forward and offered to be received by faith. And the sacrifice you and I make to take this Message that is so offensive to some in hopes they will received the gift? We may or may not be a part of the collateral damage, but it’s worth the risk and the reward.

With a view to the Cross,