This is copied by permission from a “Devotional” on a Colorado-based young adult ministry site ignitedspirit.com (Rocky Mtn Conf, United Methodist Church). The author is Ben Kendrick of Boulder.
… Often times we, as Christians, are more concerned with avoiding God’s wrath than doing his actual work.
A Christian man can walk down the street condemning religions and lifestyles, but never even see the true work of a follower of Christ … I was walking with a friend recently on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. We were only two guys walking, very heterosexually, down the street, when a man sitting on a bench looked over at us and yelled out “Romans 12 says [gays] are stupid” (he also used a much more vulgar term than “gays”).
What I haven’t told you is that in order to get to the bench that he was sitting on, the man had to pass someone in need, no matter which end of the street he came from. Situated on one end of the block was a small man, a father of three, who was suffering from a degenerative skin disease similar to leprosy, who was politely asking for change. On the other end of the block was a woman in a wheelchair with no legs, a skinny dog sat patiently next to her. She was offering a smile and a prayer in exchange for change. Whether or not this man helped either of the individuals in need is unknown to me.
My friend and I had to get on to a dinner we were already late for. Either way, this man chose to condemn my friend and I, who were not exhibiting any particular evidence that would lead the man to believe we were lovers, rather than sustain and encourage the people truly in need of Christian love.
So what is it that I take from this story? I, as was described, saw a man pass up the opportunity to show Christian love; instead he chose to spread religious intolerance. I believe that this kind of relationship to serving God is the very thing that keeps people from participating in church. It is the very thing that causes people to be “spiritual” rather than Christian. This man’s inaccurate and somewhat perplexing interpretation of scripture, might have lead a less experienced Christian seeker to give up. They might say “I love God, but how can I grow closer to him when the people that claim to know him are so ill-mannered?”
It cannot be through force and fear that hearts are brought to God. Threats and ultimatums are of no use. A person has to want to be better, a person has to wish to seek God; it is an active endeavor. We need to set a better example. We need to return to an attitude that has long since faded – where love and support is at the forefront of a Christian life. Where we give more to not only our church, but also people who are less fortunate, whether they know Christ or not.
By exemplifying a Christian life of love and support we can show the world that we know a God of love and care, a God that we do not fear because we are people that show our own love and care. By spreading compassion and support we will be better suited to inspire the hearts of others.
Good luck being the people that can see where God’s love is needed.
Peace, Ben Kendrick