Okay, this is a MAJOR peeve of mine, so be prepared. A number of you (anyone from Myspace who has read my blogs before) have heard me rant about this before, but I feel the need to do it again, because I feel too many Christians still don't "get it." Oh, and this is a preachy one, so if you don't want to hear it, then now is the time to click away or scroll down to a previous posting.
Yesterday, I was browsing around on other blogs. Most were just pics, stories of peoples' vacations and families, etc. But I stumbled on one blog that had a counter right at the top that said something to the effect of (I can't remember verbatum), "150,000 people will die today. People who have died since you opened this page (and there was a counter that added about 2 numbers per second). Most of these people don't know Jesus and will end up in hell. What are you doing about it today?" I was like, "WHAAAAT???"
For the record, I am a Christian. I love Jesus and believe in Him and know I will be with Him someday. Buuut....things like this REALLY bother me!
I didn't become a Christian until I was 16. So I remember fully what it was like back when, when Christians would try and witness to me. And I didn't like their approach. It was too "in my face." The way it sounded to me was that I was, in essence, a horrible person and going to hell unless I turned to Jesus RIGHT THEN AND THERE! Some of these people barely knew me, yet they were (the way I recieved it) convinced I was a terrible person and they were going to remind me alllll about it. It made me think that I was undeserving of God's love and redemption, so why bother because He was never going to love me anyway. It was like I had no time to even mull it over - I had to choose right then and there - so naturally, I stuck with what was familiar, and that wasn't Jesus. Sadly, after I got saved, I adopted the very same approach that I hated for many years. It wasn't until 2 years ago, when my sister, who at the time wanted nothing to do with spirituality of any form, made me realize that my approach, and that of so many other Christians, was ineffective and highly unattractive.
I was already changing my approach, but the thing that sealed the deal and put into words what was in my heart and new mode of operation, was a sermon I heard about a year ago. We were visiting a church some friends attend in Washington state because their baby daughter was being dedicated that morning. I don't even remember the full sermon, but I remember one profound concept. We are commanded to spread the gospel. Gospel, literally translated from the original Hebrew, means "good news." But too many Christians don't spread the "good" news, they spread the bad news.
The bad news is that everyone falls short - we all mess up all the time. You, me, your next-door neighbor, everyone. Its simply human nature. But not a single person needs to be reminded of that. Think of the last mistake you made - the last time you yelled at someone, dropped a plate and said a curse word in front of your kids, argued with your spouse over something petty - I would venture to say it was probably this morning. But does anyone need to remind you of that mistake? Nope. We are all already hard-wired to be acutely aware of these things. Its called a conscience. We know what is right, and we know what is wrong.
On the otherhand, the good news is that, no matter who you are, the choices you make, or the wrongs you have done, God still loves you. I know, it defies all logic. My approach, and I believe my obligation, is to spread the good news. Jesus never just walked up to someone and said, "You're going to hell. Accept me right now OR ELSE!" No way! He showed people love in practical ways. He washed people's feet, He fed people, He healed people, He sat with people and listened. He took care of people. THAT is what the good news is all about - spreading love by truly caring for others around us without an ulterior motive or agenda. Its about meeting others' needs in practical ways and loving them just because you can and you want to. Not by finger-pointing or fear-based statements and manipulations.
Do you want to know how I was finally won over to God and accepted Him? I had a really bad night. My best friend took me to a punk rock concert, then completely ditched me. The mosh pit moved in my direction (even though I was on the outskirts, just trying to keep an eye on my friend) and I got plowed. I was sitting in my car feeling abandoned and frustrated, and a mere acquaintence I had only met that night walked up to my car to make sure I was okay and offer me some company. His positivity and genuine care for me is what won me over. I wanted to be kind like he was kind, I wanted to be loving like he was loving, I wanted to be giving like he was giving, I wanted to be ridiculously positive like he ws ridiculously positive. I was tired of being so self-centered and wanted a new focus in my life, and my friend showed me the source of his joy and genuine kindness - His love for God, and God's love for Him.
So this is why that ticker bothered me so much! Because its, in my opinion, NOT a "good news" approach. Its spreading the bad news - fear and condemnation - which is, like I said earlier, from my own experience, unattractive and ineffective. Good news is about practical love, kindness, acceptance....all the things God has extended to us. How do we show His love if we don't live in love? How do we show His kindness by throwing guilt and condemnation at someone? Simply put, we don't.
Its high time, Christians, that we start getting it right!