Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Grim Reaper Isn't Scary Anymore

You've seen him. Dark robe, long white "haunted-looking" face. You can't forget the sickle in his hand. In the "Scary Movie" movies he's a caricature. He's funny. I saw him outside a local Planned Parenthood facility last week. He was there with pro-life people protesting the abortions being performed there. I pulled over and conversed with one of the people protesting. I told him that I was sympathetic to the pro-life position. He began to quote scripture to me how God valued each and every life, unborn or not. I thought, "hey, they must be Christians!" They were quietly protesting and not violent or loud in the least bit.

A couple of weeks later I drove by and saw a single protester. He was there with a placard sign covering his front and back with a picture of an aborted child. I'm not sure why but the Grim Reaper guy wasn't there this time. Maybe he was grimmly reaping somewhere else. But I digress. Back to the lone protester. As a car pulled into the Planned Parenthood parking lot I watched the lone protester. I wondered if he would block the driveway. I wondered if he would hand out a piece of literature. As I watched, I observed the car slowing, turning into the parking lot and when directly beside the silent protester, he became silent no more. His face became angered. His eyes became narrowed, his brow furrowed and he shouted something seemingly derogatory at the people pulling in. As a Christian I immediately felt I didn't want to be identified with that technique.

You have to understand where I'm coming from. I'm a pastor trying to be authentic and connect people with the love of God. I'm trying encourage others as well as myself, to live a life that is the reflection of the character of Christ. If we are, what the Bible calls, the body of Christ, then shouldn't our actions and verbiage toward others display the lifestyle qualities of Jesus? Please spare me the "you are a luke warm, liberal Christian". I believe in the precious gift of all human life. I am pro-life. But know that God isn't always on display when we get angry.

In my estimation, I think many people in American Christianity have looked at certain groups of people and exempted themselves from loving them because they are "the enemy". They are the enemy because for years, some charismatic and evangelicals have pounded a "spiritual warfare" mentality into so many of us. Everyone knows that in warfare their are enemies.

Think about it, in some popular corners of American evangelical Christianity, people are taught that homosexuals, pro-choicers, liberals, democrats etc. are our evil enemies. You should come to my church. They are all there every Sunday! The New Testament writings teach us how to overcome evil in our society in a way that seems so foreign to some. It's called "overcoming evil with good." Imagine that! Christians being kind, accepting people. The kind of people that love their enemies up close and personal instead of saying it from a distance.

You see, it costs something to love your enemies. It cost Jesus his life to love us and redeem us, his enemies at one time. To earn the right to be heard by someone we have to pay the price of relationship. Whether it's the abortion debate or some other cultural issue, we must understand that the only way to turn the tide is by changing hearts. That doesn't happen by screaming at people as they drive into an abortion clinic.

I know there are a lot of good people that want to see a lot of things changed. They are finding ways to do it too. And the Grim Reaper? Well he hasn't been back in a while. Maybe the Grim Reaper really wants to make a difference in the world and has realized that his technique wasn't working. Maybe he knows he's just not scary anymore.

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