What is EDGE-X?

Evangelize the Lost, Disciple the Found, Give back to the Community, Edify the Church, all to eXalt the Savior.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 20

Day 20: Bethsaida Dig (Day 6)

Hey everyone!

Today was interesting. Sam was fairly quiet (I think that he woke up too early to function properly). We got new people from the dig site today (I may write more about them tomorrow.... or maybe some other day). Lloyd left to go to a different site (FINALLY!). And I got to meet Susan Boyle.

Ok, not really. I didn’t get to meet Susan, but I practically met her twin. She looks the same, sounds the same, acts the same, and has the same mannerisms. It was fun for a while, until she blew up on me after I accidently stepped on her toe. She didn’t actually blow up on me, but she stepped up behind me in the food line very close, and someone had to move in front of me. I stepped back right on her toe, and she over reacted a little. I mean, it is one thing to be angry, but she just was silently enraged. I just backed off and left.

But yeah, nothing else really happened today on the dig site. It was pretty bland, yet still fun. I did run into a very prude British lady that subbed her nose at any food I offered her. After wanting to slap her, I calmed down and returned to my dig site.

The most interesting thing that happened today was my conversation with Susan (pseudonym). After the dig, I got to sit down with her and discuss some of our beliefs. The conversation didn’t start that way; we happened to stumble upon it after some previous conversation. What she said really made me think.

After belaying her disgust with some of the people who have worked on the site (and many of the stories were rightfully disgusting), she told us about “Dig-Site Love”. Apparently, it is not uncommon for people to hook up on the dig site after spending a few weeks together. What really baffled me was the number of affairs that have occurred on the site.  But what was really mind blowing was the number of people who were pastors. She never told us how many were pastors, but the fact that there were pastors who were coming to help dig on a biblical archaeological site having affairs while they were away from their family just made my heart sink. My heart groaned inside as she related to us the stories of broken love.

Transitioning from there, I told her that I was going to enter into the pastorship, and how much it disappointed me to hear these stories. The look on her face afterwards told me this was going to be an interesting conversation. We continued our conversation from some time, as we hashed out what each of us believed.

It became very apparent she had a huge disinterest in Christianity. I could tell by how she talked that she had some very poor experiences with Christians before. She asked, "How could Christians treat other people so poorly, and how they could be so condemning and judgmental of other people?"

I found that there is really no way to argue with her. I didn't try to. I didn't try to defend those Christians who hurt her in the past. I didn't try to justify their actions; I couldn't do that in good conscious. I didn't know what any of those Christians said to her. All I know is that her perception was not positive. 

What do you say to someone who has been so hurt by Christians? How do you respond to a person who has such bad experience with Christians?

I ended up agreeing with her. The way Christians (as a whole) have been acting recently has been horendous. Don't get me wrong, not all Christians have been like this; many of them have been exactly what Christ has asked them to be. But there are several Christians out there that are not representing Christ like they should. Many times, those Christians don't even know they are being a hindrance rather than a help.

Some of them are very well meaning, thinking that telling a person how much of a sinner they are will help them to see the light and want to repent. Sadly, this actually does the opposite. Half of the people today know they are sinners, so telling them they are wrong does nothing. In fact, some of them embrace the accusation, saying, "Yep, that's me, and I am having the time of my life," and no amount of yelling or convincing will ever get them to see otherwise.The other half of the people do not think there is anything wrong with them, so when you tell them they are sinners, love does not come across. Instead, the person hears judgment and condemnation. They think there is nothing wrong with them, so they think, "Who are you to coming into my life and tell me how wrong I am whenever you are no better than I am! We do the same things: I volunteer at a charity, give to the poor, raise my kids right, volunteer at school, and support my family. Who are you to tell me I am a sinner?!"

Jesus never went around and told everyone how much they were sinning and how wrong their relationship with God was, even though He had ever right to do that. Yes, He preached a message of repentance, but not a message of condemnation. Think about the difference. The only people he seriously corrected were the religious fanatics of the day: the Pharisees--those men who did walk around proclaiming their own righteousness and condemning others around them (Luke 18:9-14). Susan was hurt by these religious fanatic people, who were well meaning, but sadly mistaken.

Not to mention Susan was also disgusted by the hypocrisy in the church. She had a hard time believing Christians preached love and acceptance when they wouldn't even let homosexuals in the church. Susan pointed out how Christians seem so focused on the rules and making sure they are so pure and right that they really turned her off. She had met some ladies who were not allowed to cut their hair and could only wear skirts and no make-up. In addition, they could only watch certain movies and could only listen to certain types of music. Susan was appalled that, if she was to convert and become a Christian, that she would have to abide by all these rules. She didn't want anything to do with a legalistic system.

I think sometimes Christians today, in their strive for righteousness (which is a truly admirable and noble ambition,one I am lacking and need to improve upon), end up turning people off from the Gospel, because the message of prudence because of love does not translate, but instead comes across as legalism. Instead, we need to engage in some helpful dialogue with people to explain to them why we do what we do, focusing on Christ first and foremost, not the righteous behaviors we have adopted out of love for Him. Many times, we accidentally focus on the rules we have made for ourselves and expect people to abide by those rules before they accept Christ. For example, people expect a homosexual to give up all of his homosexual lifestyle before coming to Christ, or a smoker to give up smoking, or a person who cusses profusely to stop cursing entirely. Christ never put any stipulations on salvation. He simply said, "Follow me." God will work out their salvation on His time, not ours. He will work on their heart, and when they are good and ready, He will change them.

Talking with Susan really opened my eyes to the current state of the American church. I have really been thinking and praying about it recently, and I will be writing a post about it later on. But for now, I need to do some more thinking and praying. What do you think? Am I right? Am I way off? What problems do you see in the church today and how can we fix them?

Following His Call,
Matthew 7:2

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