Sunday, March 05, 2006

Beacon Article March 2006

Pastor Erwin McManus, from one of the largest churches in Los Angeles, tells a story of the first time somebody refused a gift that he had given. He was having a conversation with this man, and at the end of it, McManus offered the gentleman a copy of his latest book. The man looked at the book and asked "is this a Christian book?"

The tone in the man's voice was enough to make the point. Eventually, Pastor McManus realized that this man had been hurt in church as a child and wanted nothing to do with church. One line from McManus has stuck with me all week, "We have to work 10 times harder because of people who hurt people with their actions in and out of the church."

It's kind of like the guy at my college who would come by every Friday and start yelling at the students who were passing by that they were all (despite not knowing them) going to Hell. No doubt, some of them were, but because of his attitude and condescending words, I believe he may have sent many people there himself. One student who came to visit the college ministry I went to told me that he didn't want to be "like that guy [at the fountain]," and never came back.

Jesus spent most of his time on Earth challenging the religious customs and traditions of the day. If the commands of the rabbis got in the way of loving people, he always chose love. We have opportunities every day to do the same. There are people hurting all over San Augustine and the surrounding area. Many of them have been hurt by things or people in their past. Are we, as a church, willing to work the 10 times harder it will take to bring them to the unconditional, saving love of Christ?

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