Growing up my pastor encouraged us to spend more time being for something than against things. In particular he was talking about the boycott of “The Last Temptation of Christ” when people were driving with headlights on in protest. My pastor spent just one or two minutes on this but his message stuck with me…His message was this, as Christians, we are called to share the gospel. The gospel is good news for ALL.
This means spending less time boycotting and more time sharing Jesus and speaking up for others (even others with whom we disagree). He reminded our congregation that it is not our job to decide who is worthy and not worthy. Finally, he preached that we, as Christians, should be the first in line to ensure the rights of others to create movies (or speak, or worship) in ways with which we disagree. Not only is this simply the right thing to do, it ensures our ability to share the gospel and then get out of the way allowing the Holy Spirit to work.
I was reminded of the messages of my pastor early yesterday morning. I often wake early and scroll through headlines on CNN. I winced to see a headline titled “It’s time for Islamaphobic Evangelicals to Choose.” My first thought was one of angst wondering what new stupid thing my fellow brothers or sisters had done. I was instead pleasantly surprised to read Brian McLaren’s post on CNN’s Belief Blog.
“If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.
No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.
The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”
It is a new era with a similar message. Christians cannot center our lives around what we are against, rather what we are for. It is in fact, anti-Christian to focus on hate, on boycotts and on anything that falls short of the gospel.