Saturday, June 21, 2008

I walked into the park to see this sign:
the music is loud but not oppressive
the band is decent but not good 
the band members are all older
they do not see the park the way I do

Dolores Park makes me feel connected in this great city
I can go there and lay on a blanket alone for hours 
when I am there I feel welcomed 
I watch the people around me 
I am astonished by the freedom they feel
They express themselves with their clothes or lack there of
Silver hot pants with a black bra and nothing more
Children's animal masks
Vintage 1970s dresses and swim suits
Total freedom of expression 

And today freedom includes a Christian Evangelism Band complete with signs

Their gospel message is the condensed version:
Jesus died so that you wouldn't go to Hell
I am not going to Hell
You don't have to go to Hell

I am not sure if they know about the part where Jesus taught a new way to be human
I feel like the message centers around the after life and how we were all going to Hell
I know their hearts are in the right place
but for all the time they spend preaching in a park they could serve along side people in need, feed the hungry, develop a life giving friendship
They could live the way of Jesus 
Instead of trying to explain to me why my salvation experience might not be valid, they could live the life more abundant we have been called to
I am not trying to hate on them, when they are not singing or preaching their music isn't too bad, and I am sure they have good intentions, even if they do make a great many people angry

I am sometimes still torn on the issue of direct evangelism
I believe in Hell (although I am not sure what I think it looks like, and the ideas I lean towards were deemed heretical by some council over a thousand years ago)
I do not want anyone to have to suffer the reality of Hell
I do not think Hell is the point
The point seems to me to be more about life, about abundant life
Abundant life cannot be thrown at people in a park- it comes from following the teachings of Jesus and engaging in the life we are called into as God's creation

Further IF salvation from Hell is our only goal, I am not sure that it is at all possible to achieve that goal. God knows our hearts. Jesus called for repentance. Jesus taught us to think of others before ourselves. Salvation for the sake of avoiding Hell doesn't sound at all like taking up one's cross to follow. In fact it sounds just selfish enough to be the same sin that we are called to repent from. It is almost as if in seeking fire insurance we have set ourselves on fire, and we are inviting others to jump in the flame under the guise that we will eventually be able to get ourselves out. What if in all of the evangelistic talk about avoiding Hell we are actually causing genuine seekers to be pushed further away from a relationship with God? In Hell based evangelism we create a lie that says that on judgment day all God wants to know if you were scared of Hell. In Hell based evangelism we are robing people of the revolutionary challenge Jesus calls us all into.

In truth I believe that at this moment what God wants to know is if you are willing to love, to follow, to give mercy, and to help those in need. Right now, not in some distant future, God desires the bride, a bride that is pure and holy, a bride that has chosen the beloved because of who God is, not because the alternative is too scary. I mean really everyone who believes in heaven wants to go there. So I don't think God cares if we want to go to heaven. I think God cares about how we live a life of love. 

I took a picture of one of their signs. I am going to post it as soon as I figure out how to get photos off my camera. 

I am not opposed to people hearing the message of Jesus, but I want them to hear the actual message.



sweetsong said...

"The point seems to me to be more about life, about abundant life
Abundant life cannot be thrown at people in a park- it comes from following the teachings of Jesus and engaging in the life we are called into as God's creation"

-This is the beautiful message that God has been sharing to my heart over and over and over again. Today I heard a message about Jonah. I have heard the story of Jonah a million times but today I heard it in a whole new way. God knew Jonah would not want to go to Ninevah and yet called him anyway. I always saw the storm and the 3 nights inside a big fish as Jonah's punishment. However, today I saw it in a new way. The storm and the stinky fish were about God's love. God calling Jonah back to Himself. Making Jonah face his sin (a hatred of the people of Ninevah) and refining Jonah to give him freedom. To help Jonah to live an abundant life in the freedom and love of God.

yazz said...

I know what you mean. But I also think that there are a lot of times we don't directly evangelize and I feel like that was a major part of Jesus' ministry as well. While I don't think the way that they did it was right, I think the balance is just hard to find.

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