Thursday, April 10, 2003

Can We Talk...About a Taboo Subject?
[Better Living column for Community Press newspapers]

My brother is a stand-up comic named Marty Daniels. Recently, the owner of a comedy club booked Marty for an evening performance.

"I see from your web site that you're a Christian," the owner commented when she and Marty met.

"Yeah, I am," he confirmed.

"I'm not into it myself," she told him, "and don’t ever mention it to me."

"You mean like you just mentioned it to me?" Marty asked.

Why is it that people are free to talk with others about any subject under the sun--from lyposuction to hemorrhoids, from sex to breast implants--but can't broach the subject of faith in Jesus Christ?

One reason for it is obvious: Some so-called Christians beat others over the head with their beliefs about Jesus.

I used to be an atheist in part because every time I turned around, I met "Christians" who seemed more interested in proving they were right and I was wrong than in sharing Christ's love. Or, they cared less about me as a person than they did about me as a trophy. (I could picture them at the next meeting of their "Christian hunting club," bragging, "Yep, I bagged me another one of them atheists yesterday!") Christians often make any genuine discussion about Jesus Christ both insufferable and impossible.

But I also fail to see why those who are motivated by love for God and others shouldn't be allowed to share Christ with others. Followers of Jesus know all about their human imperfections. But they revel in the love of a God Who accepts them in spite of their imperfections and is committed to helping them become all that God made them to be. We're excited about how Jesus has changed our lives and about how, if people let Him, Jesus can change every human life for the better.

In fact, it's the mission of every follower of Jesus to share the better living He offers to everyone. Before the risen Jesus went to heaven, He told us to, "Go and make disciples [that means, followers or students of Jesus]" in the whole world. (Matthew 28:16-20) My personal mission statement says, "Using the communication gifts God has given to me, my mission is to personally inspire and lead people to follow and live for Jesus Christ." With a few slight revisions, that probably is the mission statement of every follower of Jesus. "Using my gifts as an auto mechanic," someone might say. Or, "Using my gifts as a lawyer, as a philosopher, as a homemaker, a computer programmer, a teacher..." or as a whatever, "I want to share Christ with others."

The New Testament book of First Peter encourages followers of Christ to always be ready to share the reason they have hope for this life and the next. Jesus, Who died as the perfect sacrifice for our sin and has opened eternity up to all who follow Him, is the reason for our hope. Peter says that as we share the hope of Jesus we’re to be, "...agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble." He also says that when we share the hope Jesus gives to us, we're to do it "with the utmost courtesy." (First Peter 2:8-16)

I personally think that we're also to share Christ with humor. A man named Paul was brought in chains before a king named Agrippa. Paul explained what it means to have a relationship with Christ. Agrippa asked Paul if that in a short amount of time Paul thought he could make Agrippa a follower of Christ too. Paul said, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am--except for these chains." (Acts 26:29)

I'll bet that King Agrippa had to stifle a belly laugh at that. How could you help but love a prisoner who could make jokes about his chains? I'll bet too, that if followers of Jesus displayed Paul's kind of courtesy, love, and good humor, even people like the comedy club owner who wasn't into Jesus and didn't want to hear His Name mentioned would want to find out more about what it means to have Jesus for one's God and best friend!

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