Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fools For Jesus

Mrs. Scott and I were watching a reality TV show where the one "voted off the show" was a Christian. She was shown reading her bible when others thought she should have been doing something productive, disobeying superiors out of conscience and like things. In the post-termination interview, she claimed hopefulness in drawing other players closer to God because she was there. I don't want to judge her faith or motives because in such a highly (over)produced reality TV show, much of the truth is probably lying on the editing room floor. But she was made to look like what I perceive as the stereotypical evangelical. And this stereotype is self-made within evangelicalism.

Much of the evangelical mindset is not so much in you being a Christian as it is in letting others know that you are a Christian. Via external, superficial, visible things. Even if it means acting like a fool to do so. I pointed this out to my wife, and she replied that her best friend, who is a staunch unbeliever, has this very thing as her number one complaint about Christianity. We seem to talk the talk, but can't walk the walk. I've heard this also from some of my non-Christian friends. They point to blatant dishonesty in Christian's motives. Things like bait-and-switch. Christians inviting them over to dinner or to their church choir's Christmas performance, only to find out it was a sleazy sales pitch style crusade aimed at evangelizing the heathen that just walked in the door - them. Or the recent flaps about Southern Baptist conventions where attendees fail to tip waitresses at nearby restaurants, or use billfold gospel tracts with a phony $20 bill printed on the front. You know, "the gospel is more valuable to your eternity than my tip is to feeding your kids."

A few years ago we attended a bible study full of otherwise strong, mature, intelligent Christians. One evening, the topic broke out about "witnessing" at work. It went around the room, and everybody chimed in about their witnessing. I was shocked (but not really surprised, because that's how I learned Christianity too) at some of the methods. Some people created passwords for accounts that were bible verse addresses, to witness to the computer geeks or managers or other workers who had access to those accounts, because they were forced to type the password! Login: AcmeCorp. Password: john316. Whoa! What a witness for Christ! Some wore jewelry shaped like a cross. Some pasted bible verses on their monitors, just so everybody would know. One guy, who worked on a construction site, boasted that his ministry was to crank the Christian radio station at full blast so everybody could hear the gospel every day all day long. "We got two lesbians who live next door, and I make sure they can hear Pastor Joe at 10am!"

When the apostle Paul said we are "fools for Christ", he meant that our living life with the hope of the resurrection to eternal life would seem foolish to the world. He didn't mean that we should act like fools.


  1. Speaking of stereotypical evangelicalism... I just came across the description of a book a few minutes ago titled "World Dominion". A very ominous sounding title. Check out the description -
    "'Reconstructionism' claims that Christians have a mandate to secure dominion over the world, bringing society under the the authority of the civil laws of Moses. This book points out the mistakes which have carried the movement far out of line with mainstream evangelicalism."
    Carried the movement far out of line with mainstream evangelicalism!? Wow! Cool! Sign me up! They sound like they think it is a bad thing to be "far out of line with mainstream evangelicalism". I would rather be out of line than in line! Although I don't think I want to be out of line in the direction of snake handling and saying goo goo ga ga didofalokaluashiferax and claiming it is a gift of tongues...

  2. The fact is, Christians have become offensive, not because of Christ, but because they salesmen.

    Now, I've been insulted for Christ in normal context and I'm not the least bit sorry for the experience. But after reviewing several DVDs of the Ray Comfort "Way of the Master" series and being given fake money, comic books, empty wallets, optical illusion, and guilt scripts... it felt like I was become that tall, imposing, encyclopedia salesman that everyone hopes they won't have to meet. Like a multi-level marketer whose friends and family can't stand to be around him.

    I guess the figure, if they insult enough people at least one out the hundred or so that they offended will come to Christ. Impressive.

    Deception, rhetorical debate, and a small view of your opponent. That's what people think of when they think of us. If that reflects Christ, it's not the Christ I know.

    Why not do a post or two on natural, subversive, Christianity? Non-aggressive, non-deceptive, but believable. Not "relationship evangelism" (befriending people JUST to convert them), but "human" baptism... real people, real relationship, and a real God.



  3. Blogger really should allow you to edit your comments... I always post to quickly. Forgive the errors!

  4. I really like the poignancy of the blog - gets to the heart of the matter. Witnessing for Jesus - a topic I have ignored for years due to many of the quirky ways people do it (which you mentioned a good handful of examples).

    I personally just try to love my faith out and I never try to be an 'in you face' persona. I am quite aware we live in a land where the teachings of our faith have been mentioned, corrupted, and mentioned even more. I just live by the values of my faith and if someone ever asks - I let them know what I believe and why - and if it ends there - oh well. I think my faith permeates deeper than what words can describe - and I think the faith is something between a person and God (sincere) and boasting about it comes off a little Pharisee-ish.