Two years ago, fresh after returning from my first Soliton, we had quite a time in our home group. Now we had two visitors that night, but I only wrote about one. Here’s the rest of the story, which I found while cleaning out old email…
Wednesday we had an amazing home group meeting I haven’t been able to write about yet. I could post several entries about it, but am pretty busy at work. But I’ll tell you what I can’t blog due to the blog’s public nature:
We had a new guy show up. A number of people missed the previous week’s meeting, so I wanted to briefly (like 5-10 minutes) share my impressions from Soliton. So there I was, talking about how I felt God calling me to reach out to people who are not interested in church. My friend Mike asked the very helpful question, “Why aren’t they interested in church?” I said, “Because they think Christians are proud, self-righteous, close-minded and judgemental.”
The new guy jumped in at that point: “You have to recognize the spiritual reality, and that is that Satan is blinding their eyes, turning people away from the gospel.”
I said, “That may well be. But I’m not talking about the reasons, I’m just saying this is where people are coming from.”
He proceeded to continue to interrupt me and anyone else who spoke up, offering pat answers and quoting Scripture at us. Like: “You know, I believe these are the end times, and it says in the end times people will turn away from God.”
I said (my voice rising), “I don’t care. If I don’t reach these people, who will? The church can’t wait for these people to show up. We have to go out.”
He continued, “You know, I don’t understand people who travel to Russia on missions trips, when there are thousands of Hispanic Catholics right here. You know Catholics think they’re saved by works.”
Me (shaking my finger): “I have to disagree with you. Many Protestants are just as confused.”
And so it continued for quite some time. After a while, I brought out my guitar as a signal that we were done talking and we had better start worshiping to save the meeting. It didn’t work. Kay and others tried jumping in, but he continued to interrupt them.
I tried talking about how so many mission agencies were working on the coast of China, but it took a radical young guy named Hudson Taylor to go inland — a guy who was spurned because he wanted to talk, eat, and dress like the Chinese. I thought it was a good analogy, but what I got was:
“You know in Acts 15 the early church had to deal with unsaved people coming in who were bringing their old pagan ways with them — things like eating meat of strangled animals. That’s what’s happening today, people want to stick to their pre-Christian ways.”
I was a good boy. I did not lose my temper (though I think anyone who knew me could see that I was boiling). I said, “You know, I have a completely different interpretation of Acts 15. But that’s OK, I think there’s room for different points of view. Let’s worship.”
What I didn’t know is that when I stepped out of the room at one point to kiss the kids goodnight or go to the bathroom or something, this guy said, “You know, it’s unbiblical to get tattooed or pierced.” It was a good thing I was out of the room because I would have lost it completely. You see, we had another new person that night who was plainly covered in tattoos, and so we asked him to share about his favorite tattoo.
This guy’s insensitivity embodied everything that post-Christians hate. What a night! …That’s the stuff I can’t put in my blog. I have more to write about the rest of the evening. It was a fun-filled ride, rich and full of action. This is church!
As some of us were detoxing afterwards, I said, “I look at this guy and have to think, was I ever like that?”
Kay said, “Do you really want to know?”
I paused, swallowed, and said, “Yes.”
She said, “Yes, you were.”
Ouch. That’ll help keep me from judging him. He’s got a good heart. He’s just a product of his church environment, trying hard to do what he’s been taught.