Posted by: minnow | March 30, 2014

The Gospel According To…

I did not know Mark Driscoll was facing problems until I read a FB post urging people to give the man some space.  My FB circles also seemed focused on the fact that Mr. Phelps, of Westboro Baptist Church fame, was dying and eventually died. Without dwelling on the particulars of the Driscoll or Phelps situations, the plethora of postings about these two men got me thinking. Most of the threads I chose to read suggested to Christians they should respond to these situations with grace, compassion, forgiveness, and if none of those were possible silence.  I understand the heart behind those sentiments.  “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and that sort of turn-the-other-cheek advice, on the surface, seems more Christ-like than a wary, controversial attitude.

I realize posting now may seem to beat a dead horse but I wanted to add a few more thoughts to the conversations concerning the emotions stirred by people like Driscoll and Phelps. I can have tolerance for people who have opinions or beliefs that differ from mine. For example, I can tolerate people of different faiths or people who claim no religious faith at all. I feel no compunction to prove to them my personal faith is superior nor am I offended when they talk about their faith. I can work with people who don’t share my convictions about certain topics, such as abortion, by trying to find common ground around the issue. I can even try to understand the fear or pain that is often behind the hurtful behavior engaged in by some individuals. But, my tolerance and understanding ends when the attitudes and behavior that cause others to be oppressed, manipulated, or otherwise harmed continues and is even defended. I am especially less tolerant when those attitudes are attributed to the “faith” I espouse. Such is the case with Mr. Driscoll as well as Mr. Phelps.

That said, I choose to look at these questions, controversies by asking myself, “Who do I want to be?”  Responding to a post expressing the idea that Christians should show up at Phelps’ funeral with signs saying, “We forgive you.” I found myself sympathizing with the writer who confessed an inability to honestly carry such a sign.  In this past year I have often had to face the fact that the person I want to be is not who I am quite yet.  And, more important to me than being seen as a spiritual superwoman, I want to be honest, honest with myself and with those around me.  I don’t want to give the people in my life the false impression that following Christ is easy or that it’s a decision we need only make once and then we’re good to go.  When I first heard the suggestion above I knew the best I could do would be to carry a sign that read, “The God I believe in loves you even if I can’t and don’t fully understand how it is possible for Him to have so pure a love.”

The most recent Christian controversy to cross my FB page concerns World Vision’s decision to employee legally married same-sex couples followed by their reversal of that decision due to the avalanche of threats to cut their funding.  This post from Rachel Held-Evans summarizes the chain of events and adds her two cents much more eloquently than I can.  After explaining what happened Evans summarized her objections to the idea the Gospel is at stake by saying this:

The gospel is at stake only insofar as we make one’s position on same-sex marriage a part of it. The gospel is threatened, not by gay people getting married, but by Christians saying support or opposition to gay marriage is an essential part of the gospel when it’s not. 

Furthermore, the notion that the way to “punish” World Vision is to withdraw support from its efforts to feed, clothe, heal, comfort, rescue, and shelter “the least of these” is so contrary to the teachings of Jesus—particularly Matthew 25:31-46—it’s hard to know where to start.

I could not agree more! To tell the truth, I am embarrassed for those who threatened to de-fund this Gospel centered organization.  I am angered by the Pharisees who think they have a right to hold children hostage.   I don’t believe anyone has been “called” to force their brand of Christianity down another person’s throats and am aggravated by those who try.  I am grieved World Vision was put in the position they were put in and yes, I was saddened when they reversed their initial decision.  But mostly, I am impressed by those individuals I saw stand up for World Vision’s initial decision, those downers who refuse to play politics with people’s lives, and those men and women who continue to support World Vision in spite of their own disappointment.  Their witness, their love will win in the end.  They are the ones to whom it will be said, “Well done My good and faithful servants.” because they preach the Gospel with their lives.

So who do I want to be?  I want to be like them.


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