I’m sorry. I was eavesdropping on a conversation at Starbucks.
Two men were talking behind my back, one much louder than the other. As Loud Man trespassed my sonic space box, I heard him say, “I lit him up!”
Tell me you wouldn’t be intrigued.
He continued. Loudly. Boasting about all the times that he had fought the imbeciles in the public school system. And won.
The principal wasn’t doing enough to curb the spree of lunch box theft. The softball coach didn’t give his kid enough playing time. And the teacher who had embarrassed his kid by asking him a question he couldn’t answer – well, he taught his kid more in 5 minutes that evening than the teacher had been able to do all semester and forced a public apology from the teacher besides!
“And these are the ‘professionals!’” he exclaimed. “Who’s paying for all this? The taxpayers! We deserve better! I could do better!”
Then he told his friend – along with all but the deafest of Starbucks’s customers – how he “lit” those incompetents up! I can only imagine the scenes…
Of course, I don’t judge this man because 1) that’s not my job, 2) I didn’t hear the whole conversation, and 3) he calmed down enough for me to tune him out.
But then a new subject arose…
All of a sudden I heard Loud Man confessing the Christian faith! (I would call it “evangelizing,” but…well, you’ll see.)
I heard him talk about spiritual warfare and pontificate about the symbolism of the Revelation. Then he brought C. S. Lewis’s trilemma to bear on his friend, to whom he said, “I don’t know where your faith is, but…” From there, he constructed a purely reasonable defense of Christianity that you’d have to be a fool to disagree with.
I mean that.
He made the Gospel sound like a mathematical formula on the level of 2+2, contemptuously scorning anyone too stupid to believe it. As with his public school skirmishes, he was absolutely right beyond question, and all others were buffoons.
Here was a man who had just bragged about his monstrous behavior, now talking about the simplicity of believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I couldn’t help but conclude that here was a man who had the Bible on the brain but not in the heart.
So I left Starbucks that day thinking hard. Not about Loud Man, but about my own words spoken with his voice. I’ve been him.
Dear God, please let me never repeat that phase of my life.
But then I got on social media, and there he was again. Not him specifically, but his kin. Raging Republican Reverends. Men (and women) who confess the Gospel of Christ professionally but then use their personal accounts to denounce Democrats, Socialists, Muslims, and LGBT activists (among others).
Not discuss, or even debate.
Denounce. Denigrate. Despise. Decry.
And I wonder: just whom do we expect we will win to Christ?
If I were to judge by the temperature of opprobrium, these must be the “lostest” of the lost. So why do we seem more eager to “curse the darkness” than to enter it bearing the Light of the world?
I feel certain that if I were a Democrat, I would never darken the door of a church that considered me a “stupid, godless liberal.” If I were a Socialist, I wouldn’t spend much time with people who considered me part of an evil global conspiracy. If I were a Muslim, I wouldn’t want to hear about the love of Jesus from someone content to let my children starve in the squalor of a refugee camp. If I belonged to any part of the LGBT acronym, I know I would oppose any group that lumped me together with child molesters.
What’s our mission anyway?
These aren’t neutral subjects, and Christians should work to think biblically about them. But we should never let our opinions stand in front of the Great Commission and the Great Commandments. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we confuse the Constitution for Scripture and Columbia for the Kingdom of Christ.
Then we become the Loud Man.
And all the world hears is: “Jesus may love you, but we sure don’t.”