I've had a long, good day. It began with a 9am appointment, and ended at 11pm after a prayer vigil for Darfur at SMU. Along the way I went to class twice, read a book, did lots of communication on the phone and via email, and met with a very cool Christian artist. A 14 hour day. Talked to several folks about Jesus. Read some good stuff about Jesus, and the history of His people. Oh yeah, I snuck in dinner with my beautiful bride and wonderful daughter too.
I'm not griping about how long my day was (or how they all seem to be that long). I was made for this. I love it.
I just want some help.
Tonight at the prayer rally for Darfur, I was surprised at the number of people who WEREN'T there. Every organization from the Campus Ministries Council was invited. That's about 25 groups currently. About 10 groups came.
And none of our Evangelical groups were there… unless we count our Christian Sorority as an Evangelical group.
Of the 10 groups, I think 6 were Christian. Of those groups, only two of us made obvious reference to Christ (from whom the term "Christian" is based). Only one of us tried to root what we said about social justice in the Person of Jesus Christ, in whom God humbled Himself to become human and suffer with the oppressed.
Everyone else spoke in terms of a generic therapeutic deism that could have referred to anyone's God, or no-one's, depending on your frame of reference.
Now, don't get me wrong. I spoke about Jesus openly and honestly, without apology, but I did not make the event into a "come to Jesus" type of talk. That wasn't the purpose of being there, and in all honesty, I think it would have dishonored Jesus to use that venue to push that agenda. The purpose of the meeting was to mobilize people to follow Jesus- and ALL religions that promote justice and peace- to bring about justice and peace in Darfur.
According to Jesus, we can follow Jesus in bringing about social justice even if we do not know we are following Him (see Matthew 25.31-46). So, the point of the meeting was- from my perspective- to help people act like Jesus even if they don't [yet] know Jesus, and by so doing, hopefully they will come to realize it was Jesus they have been following all along (look at that Matthew passage and you will get what I am saying here).
So, tonight was all about joining with everyone who cares to promote justice and peace in Darfur, while at the same time making it clear that Jesus is the basis of why I am doing it, even if others do not accept that as their motivation.
And, in all honesty, I can understand why some Christian groups might be afraid to be as open about naming the Name of Jesus in such an environment. They might be [rightly] worried that since Jesus' Name has been such a battering ram to beat up other people in the Bible Belt, that it is best not to talk the Jesus-talk, and instead just walk the Jesus-walk. So, I will admit that when some groups use a "generic therapeutic deism", it may enable other people to hear the Gospel clearer than if they had named the Name of Jesus, for the sheer fact that there are so many people who have been hurt in His Name that they have really negative connotations of Jesus.
But, I think it is important to be open, honest, explicit, and concrete about why I do what I do, and Who I do it for.
It's all about Jesus.
And how will the negative stereotype of "Jesus-people" be broken? It will only be when "Jesus-people" live such attractive lives of Love, that people cannot help but being attracted to the Jesus that is at the center of this love.
And how better to live love in an open and public way than to be involved in the life of the community, and be involved in the fight for social justice, peace, and freedom, in the Name of Jesus?
So, why were there no Evangelical groups there? Why was the Name of Jesus only named by two campus groups (who normally aren't considered to be "Evangelical"), while all of the groups that are known for naming His Name were not there?
That frustrates me. Such a good "witnessing" opportunity wasted. The Name of Jesus could have been glorified, and instead the stereotype was reinforced that Evangelicals don't care about anything except getting conversions.
I wish- I pray- that all of those who are not afraid to name the Name of Jesus will commit themselves to championing the social justice that Jesus preached. And I wish- I pray- that all of those who are commtted to championing the social justice that Jesus preached would become bold to name the Name of Jesus as the reason for what they do.
If we all did this, do you know what would happen?
The Kingdom of God, that's what…