Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Ragamuffin Reality

There is a man in town who likes to darken the sidewalk near the busiest intersections and shout at passers-by with Bible in hand and signage that suggests they are bound for eternal torture. Recently, I passed him on my way home from work, but this time there were numerous others sharing the same street corner and joining him in his tirade against heathenistic, hell-bound Tallahasseans.

You know, I can't help but think of all the good that he and his ilk are doing for the kingdom of God. I mean, if "you're all going to hell" isn't the Good News...then I don't know what is! I guess that is why the following quote leapt off the page at me when I read it in chapter six of Brennan Manning's The Ragamuffin Gospel:

The ministry of evangelization is an extraordinary opportunity of showing gratitude to Jesus by passing on His gospel of grace to others. However, the "conversion by concussion" method, with one sledgehammer blow of the Bible after another, betrays a basic disrespect for the dignity of the other and is utterly alien to the gospel imperative to bear witness. To evangelize a person is to say to him or her, You, too, are loved by God in the Lord Jesus. And not only to say it but to really think it and relate it to the man or woman so they can sense it. This is what it means to announce the Good News. But that becomes possible only by offering the person your friendship--a friendship that is real, unselfish, without condescension, full of confidence, and profound esteem (p.124, softcover).

My guess is that the passers-by could care less about the man's/group's theology or eschatology and are more than a little perturbed at the message. I'm also guessing that if they were to fold up tent and move on that little difference would result. I'm further guessing that if they were to take all that hellfire-and-brimstone gusto and turn it into social action--like feeding the homeless at the local shelter or volunteering at the food bank or (fill-in the blank here)--that they might actually find Jesus themselves!

And what if they were to truly practice the age-old saying, "make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ?" Would they not be more in line with the gospel message of Jesus that even "ragamuffins" have a place at the table??

1 comment:

holls said...

Chris! This is a great message! I too, had this excerpt from the book highlighted and underlined. I think that its meaning is so powerful! And I agree that if all of the "what if" statements came true, our world would be a different place. Your story is pretty ironic because not too long ago on my college campus, there was a man who was preaching a fire-and-brimstone message of the gospel. Students were actually stopping to mock his short-sighted dialogue. I was unobservant, but what I did hear, I didn't like. I understand that there are a few people, and I mean a few non-believers that need a particular message such as this, but most people I can only imagine find it offensive. I know God, and I find it offensive. I don't need to be scolded (sometimes I do)... but more than that, I need to be loved! Thank you for sharing your heart chris, this is very encouraging!

your sister in Christ,