About a decade ago now (Gad! That long?), the building that houses Gospel Mission on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (where I pastored for seven amazing years) shared quarters with two other occupants. We were on the top floor; the bottom floor housed a coffee shop and a series of anarchist, anti-establishment protest groups.
To be frank, they were of the opinion that the world stinks and somebody (although not they, themselves) should do something about it. (In less charitable moments, I called them the “rebels without a clue”).
When we took over the space in late 2007 to build The Lord’s Rain, one of the lasting images I had of the space as it used to be, was a shelf on which someone had written in black marker, “Food not bombs”. I believe that was the name of one of the groups that used that space.
The other day, I posed the question of what we do when we represent Jesus to the world: are we planting seeds in people’s lives — or weeds? In the same way, what are we dropping on people in the name of Christ?
The notion of “Food not Bombs” is a great one: Jesus calls us to turn the concept of revenge inside-out by responding to evil actions with love. As Paul puts it, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing, you will heap coals of fire upon his head.” (Romans 12:20) (I read “coals of fire” as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit: releasing His will on the situation so that everybody benefits — not as a passive-aggressive way of getting back at someone.)
In other words, rather than respond to an attack — physical or otherwise — by hauling off and blasting the livingbejabbers out of the other person, let’s feed that person with the Word of God. Let’s respond with love, blessing and forgiveness, because it’s very likely that those very things are lacking in that person’s life.
The food of the Word nourishes and makes one healthy. Dropping the Word like H-bombs simply destroys. Your soul might get some satisfaction at the sight of some pride-laden mocker of God — or even some poor sap who hasn’t received Christ in the way you expect him or her to — getting smashed to the canvas with your Holy One-Two Combination, but it does nothing for the Kingdom and sets your own walk with God back several squares.
As Noel Jones says, “You could win an argument but lose a soul.”
We are in times when people who follow Jesus are stereotyped, mocked and vilified. The temptation is to fight back — as happened to me when I read a Facebook post that slagged Believers in general and hurt deeply. I am still leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit to keep from launching a well-aimed, crushing riposte. (And I know that if I try to come up with something that expresses love and blessing, it will come across as sarcasm: best to leave this one to God, and if the Holy Spirit gives me the words, so be it.)
So consider what you drop on people who disagree with you or don’t share your faith. This battle is not ours to win: it’s ours to struggle, using the weapons Jesus gave us, remembering that really, it’s already been decided.
On further review … John Fischer’s post this morning also covered the topic of Divine judgment, as I did yesterday, although from a somewhat different angle. One can easily fault a person for straying out of God’s protective bubble, but more often than not, it’s a series of small, inadvertent acts that seem like a good idea at the time, that leads us away from that protection. Yes, in our pride, some of us do wander deliberately out of God’s protection by rejecting Him, because we can’t — or won’t — see the consequences. In all cases, the most reliable policy is to draw close to Him — and as James says, He will draw close to us. (James 4:8)