Today while I was at work one of my coworkers told me ‘There’s this guy standing outside Chick-Fil-a with a Christianity has failed” sign. I was tempted to throw a Bible at him.” (He didn’t mean to chuck it at him, but simply to toss it to him.) This sparked my curiosity, so when I had my lunch a few moments later I decided to see what this was all about. I went out there and met this man named Drake. He was a nice guy, very intelligent guy. Though I disagreed with much of what he said in the 20 minutes I spent talking to him I was never mean to him, with the exception of accidentally interrupting him. I never raised my voice, and I never pretended to be anyone I was not, but I never revealed to him that I was a seminary student. This was because he revealed that he believed that Christian academics were part of a cult. In all honesty, I would not be opposed to meeting this guy again be it at another street corner or at Heine Bros. for coffee.
Upon further talking to Drake about his sign and what it was that he believed and things like that I found that he actually knew the Bible quite well and that he was looking for conversation. His basic premise was simply that Christians are hypocrites because we claim to believe the Bible but we do not keep the Torah. I pushed back on this but he had a lot to say and had many responses. At some point I simply tried to talk to him about the Gospel but I could not get him to agree with me about who Jesus was since he refuse to accept that Jesus is the person who is talked about in the Bible, but preferred to call him Joshua, the Aramaic name for Jesus. Same name different language – see Paul and Saul or Peter and Cephas among other examples.
However, this blog is not actually about him. Within 5 minutes of standing there talking to this guy, I saw a man drive by in a nice car honk at the man and flip him off. He then turned to me and said “I get that a lot.”
Soon after leaving I posted a tweet about this stating: “Dear drivers flipping off the guy with the Christianity has failed sign, you are only proving his point. Jesus loved.”
At what point do we see flipping someone off who disagrees with us as being an acceptable form of argument? It not only represents you poorly it also represents Christians poorly. In the long run if you are trying to convince him that Christianity has not failed and offensive gesture isn’t going to cause him to leave the corner, nor does it help the person chatting with him who is attempting to not be a jerk. Oh wait I forgot about the passage where Jesus says “they will know you are my disciples by your hate for their opinions.” (that’s because he didn’t.)
A Christian who is attempting to be faithful to the Biblical text isn’t going to raise a nasty finger to someone as a gesture saying that they shouldn’t be there. A Christian attempting to be faithful to the Bible is going to do something more similar to buying this guy lunch, or just letting him talk. A Christian attempting to follow Christ is going to love on this guy and help him to understand the Gospel, and pray for him.
I am so grieved and so frustrated about this drive by gesture that essentially tells this guy “you have no right to voice your opinion.” Especially when for years Christians in America have been defending the right for religious liberty and freedom of speech. Drake also told me that he had to change his sign from “Christianity is heresy” to the more tame “Christianity has failed” because a police officer came by to talk to him about it. He also told me that he was a little afraid that he would be arrested today
Do I disagree with this man’s opinion concerning the Book that I consider inerrant and his perspective of my beliefs and his hermeneutic? Absolutely. Do I think that he shouldn’t have a right to speak up about it? By no means!
In Jesus’ interactions with people who got it wrong, he didn’t give them the finger, he didn’t write them off, he still showed love to them. He talked to them, he showed them that they were wrong but he showed love. He died for them proclaiming the message of the Kingdom that he was bringing all the way to the cross and then continued to preach it when he came back. Maybe we should model this and put our rude gestures away.
Taking this a little more close to home how do you respond to those guests on Saturday morning handing you their copies of Watchtower or coming to tell you about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? Do you welcome them with a smile or a squirt gun? I have heard some pretty terrible stories of how people greet them and I think that anything shy of a huge smile, a welcoming disposition and an open Bible would be to miss the point.