I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I like attending ladies salad luncheons. Maybe it’s just a Midwestern craving of mine that brings back memories of when Mom would dress us girls up and take us to the ladies-only, mother-daughter salad supper at church. Maybe it’s the hope for as much three bean salad that I can handle. Regardless, salad suppers draw me in, call my name and then strap me to a fellowship hall chair for a solid two hours
This particular evening started off innocently enough, with a buffet of salads in porcelain bowls, a room full of women’s voices and a promise of a speaker with an intriguing international experience.
By the evening’s end, though, I just wanted to leave the religiosity-laden experienced behind me. The final skit put one more check beside my “why the Church frustrates me” list and left me with a pain in my gut superceding the indigestion caused by my beloved three-bean salad.
The skit’s premise lay on evangelism, something I wholly agree with. Sure, we should share our faith with other people. How else will they know about Jesus except by seeing Him in us and hearing about Him from us. But the skit had a major flaw that still eats at my gut.
One homeless woman sat silently on a park bench, and a businesswoman sat beside her, obviously disgruntled because she just wanted a quiet lunch. The businesswoman gave her monologue, a frustrated conversation with God who was telling her that she needed to tell this poor homeless woman about Jesus.
The entire time our esteemed businesswoman was talking to God I just wanted to scream out, “Give her your sandwich!” Surely God would tell her that, but no. Instead, Mark Schultz’s “Broken and Beautiful” interrupted the scene over the P.A. system, and businesswoman-turned-Billy-Graham stuck her sandwich back in her bag and pantomimed telling the homeless woman about Jesus. They walked off the stage, arm in arm.
If that wasn’t frustrating enough, part two was about to start. A second homeless woman then entered the stage and sat on the same bench. As Schultz’s song began verse two in the background, the newly-reformed-formerly-homeless woman arrived on stage, dressed in a full business suit, obviously much better off now that she had found Jesus. She in turn shared Jesus with her homeless friend, because no homeless person could surely know about Him, and they walked off the stage arm in arm.
Religiosity tells us that those who are poor can’t know Jesus, because if they did, they would certainly do something about their poverty.
Forget about the fact that Jesus was homeless.
My limited experience with the homeless and avid experience with the un-churched tells me that people would rather know that we care about their personal needs instead of putting a notch in our spiritual belts in the name of Jesus.
My neighbor appreciates a homemade apple pie a heck of a lot more than a tract, and taping one unto the bottom of the pie plate will not get me anywhere with him as well.
So ultimately I ask myself, how do we fulfill the great commission without turning ourselves into these corner preachers?
We do what Jesus did. Jesus touched the untouchable and loved the unlovable. He hung out with some really seedy characters, and the established religious hated Him for it. They just didn’t understand the message that He had: love God and love your neighbors.
Someday hopefully I’ll go back to that church, and maybe their message will have changed. I’m not giving up hope on them, because after all, Jesus loved the spiritually blind too.