I am a self-proclaimed "controversial" person. I say things to make people think about what they believe. I call them on what they say and hold them to it. I sometimes wear a silver skull ring. To some of my Christian cohorts it is bothersome. But that's OK. I guess there's a part of me (all of us?) that likes to break the rules. I question tradition if it seems useless. I mean I don't just question it to myself, I bring it up in conversation. I like to rattle the cage. In the past it used to get me in trouble. I've learned tact in my adult years.
The other day one of my colleagues came by my office door and said, "you are a maverick!" I smiled an agreeable smile. This came after I dialogued with some folks around the staff room table during a meeting and openly disagreed with people, including my boss, about some issues. The issues I took issue with and fought for were some that I were passionate about. I wanted people to see things my way. There was something inside me, the controversial, cage rattling maverick that had to be heard. What I need to be careful of is not what words people are hearing from my mouth, but what words are being perceived as being ME! You see, people won't walk away from a meeting saying, "what was wrong with those words and ideas?" No, they are going to say, "what was wrong with Bob?"
I correctly predicted in one of my last posts that some person would step forth and proclaim that God was judging the people in New Orleans for their sin. I couldn't believe it when I read the editor's note in Breaking Christian News (.com) when he said that very thing. I was so disturbed that I emailed my friend in Albany, N.Y. who connected me with Breaking Christian News. I told him that I couldn't believe he would write such a thing. My friend responded with an email where he said, "you know Bob, New Orleans was scheduled to have a gay pride parade that week." I almost blew an O-ring. I emailed the editor.
I recognize that editors and some of my closest Christian friends are passionate about things. They want to share their beliefs and convictions with people and they have every right to do so in this great country. But my concern over what Christians (including myself) say isn't in the truth behind what they're saying. I believe in the Bible. I try to live it's words and the commands of Jesus. But when believers go "maverick" on people, they are leaving an impression, a mark, a taste if you will, about what all believers are like.
The New Testament writings record in Titus 2:10 to "make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way." I wonder how our passoinate brothers and sisters with the bullhorns with their "repent or else" message see themselves. Do they see themselves as making the gospel look attractive in everyway OR are they more concerned with unloading all of their knowledge on unsuspecting unbelievers? I am telling you it is leaving an impression. It is leaving a mark that is making it difficult for some of us to win the right to share the gospel in a relevant way.
There was a time when I approached sin and wrongdoing with my figurative bullhorn. I was insensitive. I believed the right stuff but had no idea how to share it with someone. I knew the rules. Sinners are going to hell. God is going to judge the world. The rule was to share those facts with people and they would change. If they didn't then, to hell with them, literally.
Well, I have changed my approach. I have modified my behavior and have put down the bullhorn. In its place I try to adopt the approach of Jesus. It's a bit dirtier actually. Instead of shouting from a distance I have to get close to the lost people God loves. Instead of the clean safety of my ivory tower, I now get in the ditch with the addict, the broken husband and wife, the hurting kid. I know that in the past that wasn't how it was done but, hey, I'm a maverick. I like breaking the rules.