Thursday, October 20, 2005

Evangelistic Brilliance

The people next to me must have thought I was crazy. Don Miller's side-splitting humor had me in hysterical fits on the subway last night. In Blue Like Jazz, he writes of one of the most brilliant evangelistic efforts I've ever heard. When I read the passage to Diana, she loved the story but didn't quite get why I found it so funny, but again I was cracking up. Here's an excerpt:

Each year at Reed [College] they have a festival called Ren Fayre. They shut down the campus so students can party. Security keeps the authorities away, and everybody gets pretty drunk and high, and some people get naked. ... Some of the Christians in our little group decided this was a pretty good place to come out of the closet, letting everybody know there were a few Christians on campus. ... I said we should build a confession booth in the middle of the campus and paint a sign on it that said, "Confess your sins." I said this because I knew a lot of people would be sinning and Christian spirituality begins by confessing our sins and repenting. I also said it as a joke. But Tony thought it was brilliant. ...

"We are not going to do this," I told him. ...

"Here's the catch." [Tony] leaned in a little and collected his thoughts. "We are not actually going to accept confessions. ... We are going to confess to them. We are going to confess that, as followers of Jesus, we have not been very loving; we have been bitter, and for that we are sorry. We will apologize for the Crusades, we will apologize for the televangelists, we will apologize for neglecting the poor and the lonely, we will ask them to forgive us, and we will tell them that in our selfishness, we have misrepresented Jesus on this campus. We will tell people who come into the booth that Jesus loves them." ...

For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought that to admit that we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious system as a whole, but it isn't a religious system, it is people following Christ; and the important thing to do, the right thing to do, was to apologize for getting in the way of Jesus. ...

[After they built the booth and the party was in full swing,] We lit tiki torches and mounted them in the ground just outside the booth. ... [W]e had our first customer [Jake]. ...

"So, what's this? I'm supposed to tell you all of the juicy gossip I did at Ren Fayre, right?" Jake asked.

"No."

"Okay, then what? What's the game?" he asked.

"Not really a game. More of a confession thing." ... "We are confessing to you." ...

"What are you confessing?" he asked. ...

"There's a lot. ... Jesus said to feed the hungry and heal the sick. I have never done very much about that. Jesus said to love those who persecute me. I tend to lash out, especially if I feel threatened, you know, if my ego gets threatened. Jesus did not mis his spirituality with politics. I grew up doing that. It got in the way of the central message of Christ. I know that was wrong, and I know that a lot of people will not listen to the words of Christ because people like me, who know him, carry our own agendas into the conversation rather than just relaying the message Christ wanted to get across. There's a lot more, you know."

"It's alright, man," Jake said, very tenderly. His eyes were starting to water. ...

"I forgive you," Jake said. And he meant it. ... It's really cool what you guys are doing," he said. "A lot of people need to hear this." ...

I felt very strongly that Jesus was relevant in this place. I felt very strongly that if Jesus was not relevant here than He was not relevant anywhere. I felt very peaceful in that place and very sober. I felt very connected to God because I had confessed so much to so many people and had gotten so much off my chest and I had been forgiven by the people I had wronged with my indifference and judgmentalism. ... I was out of the closet now. A Christian. So many years before I had made amends to God, but now I had made amends to the world. I was somebody who was willing to share my faith. (pp. 116-127)

For the sake of space, most of the funny stuff has been omitted. Buy the book here.

2 Comments:

At 10/21/2005 04:58:00 PM, Blogger tony said...

i know what you mean... i laughed hysterically when i read that part too... AND i read the exact same part to my wife too....

 
At 10/22/2005 12:04:00 AM, Anonymous Mel said...

Hey Jeremy...thanks...this post and your prior one gave me alot to think about. Regrettfully I tend to swing to one or the other end of the spectrum but I can never seem to find that medium of being in the world but not of the world. I have a co-worker at my last agency though that I kept feeling that God was urging me to share with but I never did. Sharing laughs, jokes and drinks were the easy part but I've never managed to share the gospel and I don't think I was always a good witness either. You've inspired me to write an apology to her.

I've got one question for you though...something me and my Christian friends debate on often...in your opinion is an occasional glass of wine or a beer okay assuming you don't over imbide?

 

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