Just No

Y'all.  I came across this article yesterday on Facebook, which initially made me sad.  Sad for Jon Foreman and Switchfoot for having to deal with it, but even more sad for the people who witnessed it and may have not been believers.  Then I proceeded to watch the video at the end, and it literally made me sick to my stomach.  I was (and still am) extremely, righteously angry about the contempt and hate displayed in that video.

Here is what I believe: preaching condemnation and hate does not and will not open up people's hearts to the message of the gospel. If anything, my experience has shown that this kind of behavior repels people from God.  I would never claim to be a Bible scholar, however I am fairly certain that what Jesus asks of His followers is to love others out of our love for Him. 

"A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35

"Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins." 1 Peter 4:8

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:7-11

Now, does loving others mean accepting or excusing sin?  I don't think so.  But I sure as heck do not believe that real, Christlike love can be acted out in the form of judgment or condemnation (see Matthew 7).  Jesus never condemned those who were living in sin... just think of the woman at the well (John 4).  Rather than yelling at them about their sin or exhausting phrases such as "you will burn in hell,"  Jesus simply spoke to people - to those who were following Him and those who were not - in love and in grace (the only exception I can think of was when He was in the temple in Matthew 21:12).  He acknowledged their sin in a way that they would recognize their brokenness and, ultimately, their need for His mercy and grace.  And as Christians, we are supposed to/called to act like Christ:

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15

And the saddest thing is, it's not just in this video where that this kind of stuff happens (probably not a surprise).  I recently read another article where it's noted that, while at the Oscars, people representing Christianity were "yelling inaudible sermons and others [are] just shouting...Right before you get to the red carpet, you get to...pictures of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Walker saying "BURNING IN HELL" and other despicable things. It's so surreal and hate-filled..."  

Looking back, I realize that even I experienced these kind of scenarios - before I was a Christian - when I was in high school in the Bay Area, California (which, by the way, is a spot in need of serious spiritual revival).  I can remember standing in line at concerts in San Jose and San Francisco, where across the street there were people with picket signs with images of blazing fires and words like "SIN," "HELL," "REPENT," etc. (by the way, their hate-filled words led me to think that the god they proclaimed was also one of hate and condemnation).  Now, while those words do represent true facets of being a follower of Christ, they should not be used as scare tactics or fuel for hateful speeches to "evangelize."  You're likely not going to lead people to the true Christ if they believe you are judgmental, or worse, insane, and that is then a lost opportunity for the Kingdom.  It is a shame.

Let me try to clarify something I believe about the calling on Christians: Set apart?  Yes.  Crazy?  No.  Holy?  Yes.  Condemning?  No.  In the world?  Yes.  Ofthe world?  No. (Romans 12:2)

Just no, people.  This is not okay and it breaks my heart.  In my humble opinion, this kind of behavior does not represent Jesus Christ or His love for His people at all.  I wholeheartedly believe that Christ loved me before I understood who He really was (and is), what He had done on the cross, and long before I acknowledged that I was (and still am) a sinner in need of His grace.  Therefore, I think that the same is true for those who do not yet acknowledge and follow Christ. [I realize this sentence could easily become a Calvinist vs. Arminian debate, but let's not get into that here.]  I believe that God loves His creation, even those who are far from Him, and that His desire is for them to turn to Him for ultimate and eternal redemption.

This post is just a thought, a rant, something very heavy on my heart.  I long desperately for people to know and love Jesus Christ, for them to encounter Him in a way that changes their lives dramatically for the sake of the gospel, and I just DO NOT see how this kind of crap can do that.