I’ve been really busy the last few months and I haven’t written anything here or on any of my other blogs. I have written some articles for work but I’ve neglected these periodic online head cleanses and I have missed them.
Blaming it on being busy is really not a good excuse. Except for when I gave myself a Lenten writing challenge, I’ve never been consistent with these things. I don’t expect this post to kickstart a new era of prolificacy either.
What is Truth?
I hear fellow Christians say it is our role to “speak the truth” to others. Words mean things. It is our role to speak the truth but I am not convinced a high percentage of people would recognize the truth if it pulled up a chair next to them and offered them a cigarette.
There was a song I remember from college that had a line that said “Jesus rides beside me. He never buys any smokes.” I’d heard that song a dozen times before I paid attention to that line. It made me laugh and scratch my head.
I don’t smoke.
A few years ago, I attended a Christian Men’s conference with a group from church. As we waited in the lobby in our church gear to begin our day of self-important speakers and bad music, a stranger walked up to introduce himself.
Instead of saying normal human things like “how are you?” or “where are you from?” he started into his bad witness routine.
“I just gotta tell you, if you don’t know Jesus you’re going to split hell wide open one day.”
Did I mention we were pretty clearly a group from a church standing together at a Christian men’s conference?
I wasn’t feeling very combative that day, as hard as that might be to believe, but one of the men in the group jumped right in for us.
“Do you find that approach works for you?”
The interloper looked a bit confused at the question. So, my friend continued.
“Has anyone ever responded to you and asked to talk more and accepted Christ after you approached them that way?”
The confused guy stood there for a minute and replied with a “truth” that is more sad than anything else.
“Well, no. But I’m supposed to say it.”
After we asked him why he didn’t start with something like “Jesus loves you,” he wandered off to bother the next group he could find. Those poor souls. And we wonder why more people than ever are openly hostile to Christians.
Words mean things. When we call ourselves Christian, it means Christ-like. Time and again in scripture, Jesus approached hurting people with grace and compassion first. When he healed the man at the pool, he didn’t ask him if he was a believer—he wasn’t—he asked him if he wanted to be healed.
We have to begin with kindness.
I have a friend whose child was once addicted to heroin. It’s a devastating drug that often leaves people out of work, broke and homeless—or dead.
My friend’s child, turned to a church ministry for food when she was down and out. Instead of giving her a warm meal or even a sandwich, the “good people” turned the child away.
When someone is hungry, you feed them. No strings.
The modern church has created a lot of people who may never accept Christ. Scripture tells us it is God’s desire for everyone to know him. I’d hate to have to stand in front of God one day and explain why my behavior turned someone away from him.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”1 Timothy 2:1-4
I don’t see manipulate, control or browbeat in that passage. Do you?
It’s not just strangers we attack. I have seen Christians belittle other believers because they go to a different building for their Sunday morning performance sessions. The denomination I grew up in actually re-baptizes people who join from other Christian churches.
It’s almost like they don’t understand what a baptism is. Here’s a hint: baptism is not a water ritual you do in the church hot tub so that people will think you are a good person.
In Jewish culture, baptism was a cleansing. At the age of 30, it was also an ordination. Jesus officially began his ministry after his baptism/ordination and the Holy Spirit descended upon him. For the church today, baptism needs to be about receiving the Spirit and honestly seeking to do ministry. It should never be a lookie lookie ritual to please our peers.
A new challenge
When you get really busy, it can be easy to forget to spend your time with God each day. Not praying is easy—until it takes its toll on you.
For Father’s Day this year, I got a gift card from work. With it, I bought a metal sign to hang in my remodeled home office (which I am still not finished with), a new study Bible and a book I have wanted to revisit.
Several years ago, I lost my copy of Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. Each chapter breaks down a different type of prayer. In the coming weeks or months, I will write a summary on my blog after I complete each chapter.
This will help me study a little deeper and develop a discipline to hold myself accountable.
If anyone is following along, don’t skip a meal waiting on the next article. You’ll surely starve! But, if you are interested in learning more about prayer, check back from time to time or subscribe to this blog to get an alert when I post something new.
If I have to sum up this mess I have written, let’s end with this. Truth is something you can demonstrate in your life, not something you can speak into someone else’s life. As Jesus told us, we should treat others as we’d like to be treated and we should regard others as better than ourselves.
Say “hi” in the comments if you are reading.