Can We Come Out Of Hiding Yet, Or Rightfully Ashamed Of The Gospel

I’m out of town on a surfing trip this week taking advantage of my time off due to unemployment. So I’m cleaning out the draft folder and posting what I consider to be Charlie’s Church of Christ b-sides. Every band writes songs that aren’t amazing enough to put on the record, yet still shouldn’t be tossed out. These posts are like that. Hopefully you don’t think they’re “f-sides.” Please note I won’t have regular internet access and won’t be replying to comments until later in the week.

Recently I opened up a can of worms about evangelism and how we sell the gospel. Despite the fact that I operate a blog anyone can read I’m not necessarily public with my faith. I’m don’t mean I don’t have a Jesus fish on my bumper (though I don’t have one), nor do I mean I don’t wear a cross necklace (I don’t do that either). What I mean is that not everyone knows I’m a Christian – in fact the vast majority of my co-workers (now former) don’t know.

(I’m already imagining the rebuke I’ll get for that one.)

Christian rock bands play songs about not being ashamed of God, but truth be told there is a reason why we are a little ashamed of Christianity – the very ugly, well known public mistakes of our brothers and sisters. I remember in college if someone “found me out” I had already prepared a speech about how I’m not one of those Christians who shoves religion down your throat along with deep fried cooking. I didn’t want to put off that person simply because of their deeply implanted image of abusive Christians.

I think there has largely been a negative reaction to that sort of evangelism – and so many have compensated by choosing to show, not tell Jesus via love and forgiveness. That’s why you hear that quote “preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words” at least once a week. We’ve retreated and began to preach ambiguously through our actions.

This isn’t a bad thing of course, I think Christianity needed the correction that love means nothing unless you actually do it in visible, tangible ways.

You may, possibly likely, disagree, but I think compensating for the ridiculous Christianity projected onto the skies for so long is a good move. I think we saturated the world with our ideas and it’s a good idea to step back and let the people detox. But, you can’t stay in the cave for too long or you’ll go blind.

I think it’s been a while now – can we re-emerge yet? Can be a little more vocal? When is it okay?

Was it okay for us to step back and not be like those other Christians? How do we re-emerge from that? How do you talk about faith without shoving it down someone’s throat? How does Christianity move forward from the era of obnoxious evangelism? What do you think the new path should be like?

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11 Responses to Can We Come Out Of Hiding Yet, Or Rightfully Ashamed Of The Gospel

  1. David says:

    The whole idea of acting religious, or hiding our religion makes me sick. I should probably end here, but I won’t.

    There is no sales training for Jesus! In fact I had a wonderful Christian guy that did advertising sales for me. He was a bit melancholy, and certainly not your extroverted car salesman. He was one of my a top producers. Why? He trusted God for leads, cold calls, and follow-ups. One day we took a drive out to “motel row” and he prayed. Let’s pull in here, so we did. Sale! This happened 4 more times within 2 hours. As we trekked back to the office, there was a motel that I had been to a couple of times, and met with the owners at a chamber of commerce meeting with no results. Sale!

    It is not surprising that he was also very good at evangelism. The idea that we can wear a cross or a t-shirt and really make difference for the kingdom is a bit silly – though I am sure from time to time, God uses it.

    In Brazil I worked with an evangelist that brought thousands to Christ. It was a gift, an amazing gift. 54 people on a street corner, 14 people in a church of “saved” folks. 40 people on a tour bus. It was a gift!

    My personal experience is this. Of all the people that I have talked to about the Gospel over 30-something-years, only one has refused it. I only go with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I wish I could say it was thousands, but it more like 100. I have other gifts that God uses for the rest of his purposes. As evangelicals we are not only failing at evangelism in America – business is not too good, but we also fail at discipleship.

    Dead religion is a killer.

    Great blog – better than a b-side!

    • thanks David! You’re right we fail at discipleship and evangelism – I think that if we naturally foster more mature disciples the evangelism will arise naturally. And salesmanship is not evangelism – though I do love the phrase smokin’ what your sellin’

  2. Reading your blog always goves me something to think about. Today it led me down the path of church history, and how that path has been corrected over the centuries. Because we are human, we never can get it quite right….for now. And so God makes corrections in our path, and quite possibly sends some of us down different paths. (Not different in the sense that we follow different gospels, but different in the way we approach God and other people.)
    When I read your post I figured that the best way to respond was to just copy and paste something I posted myself a while back. Correct me if I’m wrong, but so often I think that you and I think very much alike. This is not an attempt to highjack your blog! I just felt that I’ve already said what I can about this the best that I can say it, so here it is:
    I think from the standpoint of a follower of Christ. Note that I did not use the word “Christian.” I use that word less and less these days, as it no longer means “Little Christ.” (Something I could never be anyway.)
    There are a few phrases in scripture that are no longer commonly understood in the same way as they were when written. I think that the word “Christian” CAN mean everything it meant in the Bible….a follower of and redeemed by Christ, hopefully bearing the outward characteristics of the indwelling Holy Spirit: patience, kindness, humility, courtesy, not possessive or jealous, not contentious, forgiving, a person of faith, truthful (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7) ….all of this not because they’re able to achieve it themselves, but because God is able to achieve it in them.

    That’s what it CAN still mean, and does in many individuals.(I know of no one who is “there”, especially me. We are all works in progress. God doesn’t snap His fingers, in my opinion, and “presto changeo!” You are now perfect.)
    But more commonly the word “Christian” is taken in our society to mean intolerance, (and many times that is a mistaken perception), or a person who is unfailingly a member of a specific political party, or inflexibility, or someone who thinks they’re right and everybody else is wrong, or unable to tolerate questions they should probably be asking themselves. Various groups and types of people have taken the name “Christian” to justify some very unChristian behaviors, (like picketing funerals,) and, again in my opinion, been a poor representative of who Jesus Christ really is.

    Not that I think I’m the epitome of what a follower of Christ should be. I very clearly know that I have A LOT to learn, and have barely scratched the surface of what I’m meant to be. So, in an effort to know, relate to and understand Jesus Christ, I regularly read and study the Bible, knowing that parts of it may remain a mystery to me for a very long time, if not forever. Still, I persevere. I read it over and over, and each time, I learn a little more. I AM a work in progress, with many questions and things that I don’t understand. But I think that it’s possible to ask questions and still have faith. Questions that I ask HIM. Like, “What about all this creation uproar? I know You did it…but does it really matter HOW You did it?” Or “How do I know that the Bible is true?” I don’t have too much trouble taking it by faith….but there ARE some things in there that are hard to reconcile. My policy, when I run across these things, is not to just skim over them, but to tell God…”I’m having trouble with this…can you explain it to me?” Sometimes I get an answer, sometimes I have to wait. I understand, though, that faith is not possible when all questions have been answered.

    These, and lots of other questions, are things I’d like to discuss.

    • it keeps coming back to power for me (as you’ll see in some upcoming posts) – it’s about how we use our power – namely for serving, not for ruling. What you described here is a certain humility that is central to what we do. Thanks for your great comment Jane!

  3. Jason says:

    “How does Christianity move forward from the era of obnoxious evangelism?”

    Good question. We’re rapidly reaching a point in American where ANY evangelism is seen as “obnoxious.” I had a conversation recently with a friend where I mentioned something we were doing at church and they snapped back “if you want to be friends with me, you need to stop your prothesizing.” I hadn’t even mentioned Jesus or anything “salvation” related.

    We can shut down the Fred “Captain Idiot” Phelpses of the world but it’s to the point just saying “Jesus” is considered obnoxious.

    • wow that does seem extreme – just mentioning church. Guess you could say “my community” with that person if it’s so off-putting.

      Do you think if Christians calm down for a while it won’t be seen as obnoxious?

  4. PS…where are you surfing? My husband is from Santa Cruz CA.

  5. How do you talk about faith without shoving it down someone’s throat? How does Christianity move forward from the era of obnoxious evangelism? What do you think the new path should be like?
    ——————————–
    1. Simple. Shut up and let your actions be your words. No shoving required. However, this is not to say we should not be ready to give the reason for the hope that we have, of course. I also find it amusing that only Christians are said to shove their religion down anyone’s throat. It’s that whole Name of Jesus thing in full effect. Once you mention His name out loud, you stir up the hornet’s nest. True story.

    2. We destroy all Christian t-shirts, bumper stickers, coffee mugs, pamphlets, posters, drive-by evangelism, calendars, and refrigerator magnets. It’s quite honestly embarrassing.

    3. I don’t believe in a “new path”. Quite the opposite. I believe modern-day Christianity needs an enema, and we need to return to The Book of Acts as our example. Throw in the rest of the Epistles and you have a potent and relevant mixture of Truth and Action.

    Good stuff, Charlie. Hope the surfing was rad.

    • Larry Hughes says:

      I have to agree with Donald on letting your actions speak of your faith. Once the noticers realize there is something different in your walk, they will want a piece of it. Then you can let them know in a low key approach of where your peace comes from.

      The best way to turn people off on Jesus is to preach at them

      • Donald – I am super duper tracking with you here. I am the hippie that really does believe in the love that radiates out of us. I am also with you that it doesn’t mean we never talk about our faith, but words only do so much.

        Not only that you’re right – the bumper stickers are embarrassing. I’ll host a burn party 🙂

        I also like the church of the good (ie hard) ole days, I can over romanticize but something just seemed to be in the air back then and quite frankly it’s lost a little bit of its raw steam.

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