Love is Not a Bullhorn Pt. 2

A few days ago I made a post called Love is Not a Bullhorn which was about a story I read in the news. The basic gist was this:

  • A church has been protesting at a strip club and now the strip club is protesting at the church.

My critique was on how this church was acting. The basic gist of what I said was this:

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

The post I made was short, but was also, I feel, important. You can read it here. Anyways, I bring this back up because the story has come back into the news. Now typically, when we hear of a story about a church, it’s a bad thing. The media obviously focuses on the crap that happens in the world because that sells money. But somehow this story has come back into the news and now there’s hope that this church could fix the situation. Here’s what YAHOO said on the matter.

They [the strip club owner and the pastor of the church] say they’ll negotiate for the first time Wednesday.The decision came after two women from ministries that evangelize to adult-entertainment industry workers spoke during Sunday’s sermon at the church in Warsaw, 60 miles northeast of Columbus.

San Diego resident Sheri Brown and Grand Rapids, Mich., resident Anny Donewald say the congregation should just love the strippers and “let the Holy Spirit draw them out.”

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper says women who attended the church service apologized to strippers who had traveled from nearby Newcastle to protest outside.

This is good news! Not only did this church allow people outside of their congregation to come in and critique them, but they also listened! That is much, much harder to do than you might think. It’s obvious to me that the Spirit was at work in those who apologized.

To the rest of Christians, let’s keep this church in prayer. They are, after all, as much a part of the body as the rest of us. God is already mending some wounds and this meeting between the pastor and strip club owner could be an epic moment of healing. Not just between the church and the strip club, but between the church and every person who read the original article.

Ohio Strip Club Owner, Pastor to Meet over Feud – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100815/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

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Love is Not a Bullhorn

Let’s get something straight here church: you were called to love people and give them God’s life, NOT to speak hell and death over them. Sadly, it’s always our mistakes that make the news:

The owner of an Ohio strip club and some of his dancers have been protesting at a church that has done the same to them for four years…They [the church] come armed with bullhorns, signs and video cameras for posting customers’ license plate numbers online.

There is a very delicate balance to what you preach. It’s not all law. It’s not all sin. There is the incredibly important aspect of forgiveness that one man died for. You also might recall that He died silently and not with a bullhorn.

Jesus never even needed a bullhorn anyways. Why? Because He showed people love so perfectly that crowds would not leave Him alone! They had to have more of Him! They hung on His every word.

Jodi read me an amazing story out of Orson Scott Card’s, “Speaker for the Dead” just the other day. I think it applies well to this situation:

A Great Rabbi stands, teaching in the marketplace. It happens that a husband finds proof that morning of his wife’s adultery, and a mob carries her to the marketplace to stone her to death.

There is a familiar version of this story, but a friend of mine – a Speaker for the Dead – has told me of two other Rabbis that faced the same situation. Those are the ones I’m going to tell you.

The Rabbi walks forward and stands beside the woman. Out of respect for him the mob forbears and waits with the stones heavy in their hands. ‘Is there any man here,’ he says to them, ‘who has not desired another man’s wife, another woman’s husband?’

They murmur and say, ‘We all know the desire, but Rabbi none of us has acted on it.’

The Rabbi says, ‘Then kneel down and give thanks that God has made you strong.’ He takes the woman by the hand and leads her out of the market. Just before he lets her go, he whispers to her, ‘Tell the Lord Magistrate who saved his mistress, then he’ll know I am his loyal servant.’

So the woman lives because the community is too corrupt to protect itself from disorder.

Another Rabbi. Another city. He goes to her and stops the mob as in the other story and says, ‘Which of you is without sin? Let him cast the first stone.’

The people are abashed, and they forget their unity of purpose in the memory of their own individual sins. ‘Someday,’ they think, ‘I may be like this woman. And I’ll hope for forgiveness and another chance. I should treat her as I wish to be treated.’

As they opened their hands and let their stones fall to the ground, the Rabbi picks up one of the fallen stones, lifts it high over the woman’s head and throws it straight down with all his might it crushes her skull and dashes her brain among the cobblestones. ‘Nor am I without sins,’ he says to the people, ‘but if we allow only perfect people to enforce the law, the law will soon be dead – and our city with it.’

So the woman died because her community was too rigid to endure her deviance.

The famous version of this story is noteworthy because it is so startlingly rare in our experience. Most communities lurch between decay and rigor mortis and when they veer too far they die. Only one Rabbi dared to expect of us such a perfect balance that we could preserve the law and still forgive the deviation.

So of course, we killed him.

Works Cited:

Bullhorn Guy. Perf. Rob Bell. NOOMA. DVD.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. New York, NY: TOR, 1986. Print.”

Dancers from Ohio Strip Club Protest at Church – Yahoo! News.” The Top News Headlines on Current Events from Yahoo! News – Yahoo! News. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100810/ap_on_fe_st/us_odd_strippers_protest_church&gt;.

Woe to You Hypocrites

Now there’s a pleasant name for a blog title!

Yet we all need to hear it, because history has a way of repeating itself. In Jesus’ time, many pharisees and scribes were jacked up on pride and power. They did things so that they could upgrade their robes to “super pharisee!” Or in other words, they would put things on their clothes in order to appear more holy than the rest.

Oh, and I’m sure they bragged about it too. “Check me out! Look what I’ve done in the name of almighty me! I mean… err.. uh… what was His name again? Oh yeah, God!”

And if you know anything about Luther’s time, then you know that this way of life had returned. The religious folk ruled the world and anything that came against them was destroyed. They had people paying to get their relatives out of Purgatory, wanting to pay and pray to the dead bones of prophets and so on and so forth, the same kind of things Jesus rebuked the pharisees for doing. And that was all going on 1500 years after Jesus walked the earth!

(This is actually an amazing movie and I suggest it to everyone.)

From what I’ve seen today we’re not quite like this. But we all (especially us leaders) need to take Jesus’ advice not to become like our predecessors. I send extra caution to those of us who get caught up in tradition (which we all do in one way another). It’s not that tradition is bad, it’s important! But for some reason, it seems easy for we humans to sacrifice God’s will for tradition. We focus so much on our practices of religion that we rob the very meaning of it.

So, rather than set a price on our own version of purgatory and prophetic bones, let’s focus more on letting God do what He wants to do. I’d hate to see history repeat itself again in the massive corruption it has in the past.

And I should mention that this message is just as much for me as it is for the rest of us. Woe to Jamin, the hypocrite. I apologize to all of you in the ways I have been one and I once again set my eyes on perfection.

And now for our feature presentation. Oh, and take your time reading it. DEW (devour every word).

Matthew 23 (NASB)

1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;

3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

5“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.

6“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,

7and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

8“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.

9“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

Eight Woes

13“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.14[“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.]

15“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

16“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’

17“You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?

18“And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’

19“You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?

20“Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it.

21“And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.

22“And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

24“You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

25“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.

26“You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.

27“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

28“So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

30and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

31“So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

32“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

33“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

34“Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

35so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

36“Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Lament over Jerusalem

37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.38“Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

39“For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'”