Friday, January 23, 2009

Reaching vs Preaching

In recent years I have come to the very sad realization that for far too much of my Christian life I have acted more like a "preacher" than a "reacher."

I suppose, if we look at Jesus as our example, we would be prone to say that he knew how to balance the two out - he was both a "reacher" AND a "preacher." Unfortunately, we tend to spend a lot more time focusing on, and putting into practice, the "preaching" part - meaning that we come on a bit strong with those unfamiliar with the faith - as opposed to the "reaching" part - which is actually more difficult because it involves establishing relationships with people who might make us feel uncomfortable.

You know - sinners.

I am, today, a firm believer in "reaching" people first, and then letting the "preaching" come later - either naturally, though HOW I treat them, HOW I live, letting them observe the choices and decisions I make, etc. and then, of course, if God opens the door - sharing the gospel (preaching).

Frankly, I am a little tired of hanging around Christians. Let me clarify that - I mean cranky, narrow-minded, critical, bitter, angry, finger-pointing, Bible-waving Christians. Folks who shudder if they hear someone say "shit" or who go into panic mode if they have a friend who smokes or imply that God only loves those who have jumped through some sort of series of spiritual hoops... or, ya know - Pharisees.

I am tired of hanging around Pharisees.

I am hoping that I get more and more opportunities to hang out with a whole lot of people who are in desperate need of RELATIONSHIP and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. Well, ya know - like the DISCIPLES.

I wanna hang out with Disciples. Because the Disciples had issues.

So which are you - a "reacher" or a "preacher?"

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged...

Judge not, lest ye be judged. If you're a Christian, you've heard that phrase many times. If you are not a Christian, you've probably heard it, too. In fact, those from both sides of the coin have uttered those words at times - usually when we are trying to rationalize our belief system or actions... "DON'T JUDGE ME!"

Well, let's talk about this statement - what is it REALLY speaking about?

The truth is - I cannot judge ANYONE. Read that again - I did not say I should not judge anyone - I said - I CANNOT judge anyone - I am incapable of that act - judgement is reserved for God and God alone. At an appointed time, God will step into the role of "judge" and set the course for the next "stage" of life - eternity.

But we misread that - we wrongly assume this statement means we cannot hold others accountable for their actions, or call into question their morals, etc. And the question we need to ponder is this - IS THAT TRUE? Am I NOT allowed to call your actions into question or hold you accountable for unbiblical conduct or morals? And are you now allowed to treat me with equal accountability? Well, the answer to that is - YES, of COURSE we are "allowed" to do that with our brothers and sisters in Christ - in fact, we are COMMANDED to do that.

And doing that - is NOT judging.

So, as a Christian, am I allowed to call into question the immoral, completely unbiblical belief of our newly elected president on his pro abortion stance? Or, if I dare question this aspect of his belief system, did I suddenly step into God's territory and have now "judged" him? Who decides if I am "judging" or "holding him accountable?"

I get Obama's lure - I truly do. I'm old enough to remember men like John Kennedy who had a similar "lure" on a nation tired of "old people and old ways." I get it. I get that Obama has, what he believes, are "hope-filled" plans to turn our country around. I also "get" that God is in total and complete control of all situations in life - which I interpret to mean that God may not CAUSE all events - - - He simply knows what to DO with our screwups...

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)

So, while I am not convinced that God WANTED Obama to become our president (and I base this hunch on the fact that God does not WANT us to be killing innocent unborn humans), God WILL work all things (including his election) for the good - for those who LOVE HIM.

Part Two of this commentary is really more of a question - and it's not an easy one. Does God really - no, I mean REALLY - "judge" a nation for their ungodly actions and decisions? Or have we simply moved past that - like, God DID that - way in the past - but He's come to His senses and no longer has a need to "judge" His people. I ask because if God no longer judges, man - I'm gonna live it up! However, if God DOES still judge "a people" - does it matter - SHOULD it matter - to followers of Christ what we use as the foundation of our decision making when it comes to our nation? Does it really matter that President Obama is pro-abortion - as shown as recently as today (Jan 23) in his reversal of President Bush's ban on funding abortions? Or, should we just stand on that nice scapegoat of "church and state" and simply put "God" in a nice box over here - and "real life" in a different box over here -- to make sure we can keep our cars filled with gas, our kids in college and food on the table...

You know, the IMPORTANT things...