Monday, December 05, 2005

Question of the week

The following op-ed ran in the December issue of Tri-State Voice in response to my November article, "I'm Going to See U2 (and other Reflections on Missional Living)." In response, my third question of the week:

  • Is it possible that outreaching to unbelievers (in the way described in the U2 article) and serving as our brothers' keeper (in the way described below) are compatable, rather than mutualy exclusive?
OP-ED COMMENTARY Reflections of a Fundie - By Pastor Mario Gonzalez As senior Pastor of Hope Center Tabernacle, a ministry steeped in the arts, I have been privileged to travel, along with my wife, our worship Pastor and my entire worship team from campus to campus partnering with various campus ministries to reach thousands of college students for Christ. Needless to say, things haven’t changed much since my own days at N.Y.U and Fordham University. Many of these students are kneeling at the stages of these Universities seeking deliverance from lifestyles marked by rampant alcoholism, incessant clubbing, and an over-all sense of worthlessness. Most say that they engage in these activities in an effort to “fit-in”—in reality it’s all designed to dull the sense of lack of meaning in their lives A recent article in this paper (“I’m Going To See U2” by Jeremy Del Rio, Nov. issue), seemingly encouraged believers to participate in questionable conduct that would help them to “relate,” in order to be more effective witnesses of the Gospel. The author seemed to say that—in an effort to evangelize—God’s children should no longer be forced to “religiously sip” ginger-ale, or refrain from being seen in bars or any other place that might be construed by “fundies” as compromising to our testimonies. When it comes to getting people saved, it appears that the writer of the article took Paul’s testimony to the church at Corinth—“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some,”—to a new extreme. The end, apparently, justifies the means, whatever that might involve. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be a light in darkness. While God does look at the heart, He makes it clear in speaking to Samuel that man looks at the outward appearance. As such, we must be examples to the world of what it means to really live free. The Spirit-filled believer acts as a spiritual barometer for the entire world to see. People should know what God’s will is in their lives by simply observing us. Paul commends the believers at Thessalonica when he says, “You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” We need to be just as responsible when addressing the general public on issues as sensitive as alcoholic consumption and frequenting establishments that exist on the basis of immoral behavior. The truth is that the consequences of college drinking are larger and more destructive than commonly realized. A new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and commissioned by the NIAAA Task Force on College Drinking, reveals that drinking by college students age 18-24 contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. It also estimates that more than one-fourth of college students that age have driven in the past year while under the influence of alcohol. The apostle Paul tells the believers in Rome, “Don’t follow the crowd and mindlessly imitate them! Allow yourself to be made completely different from what you were before you knew Christ.” (Rom. 12:2 paraphrase) In the Garden of Eden the question is asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer to this question for Cain, as well as for you and I was and continues to be a resounding, “Yes.” Paul more emphatically presents this point when expanding on his conviction over our responsibility to be visual “examples” in our continuing effort to prevent our “weaker” brethren from falling. When addressing the controversial “eating of meat sacrificed to idols” by believers, he says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.” While I totally understand and embrace unconventional, and unrestrained evangelism, I have also come to understand my responsibility as a spiritual leader of the flock of Jesus Christ. This flock is as diverse as it is large. A tapestry weaved of people from all ethnicities and traditions. In that tapestry there are a rather large amount of brethren that would probably describe themselves as “fundies.” This does not mean that they are necessarily “religious” per se, but they are deeply committed to maintaining their own purity in the eyes of their God and serving as examples for others to follow. They are, as we all are, our brother’s keepers. It’s important that we never forget that. Pastor Mario Gonzalez is the Senior Pastor of Hope Center Tabernacle, located in Jersey City. He can be reached via e-mail: mailto:rev.mariogonzalez@verizon.net.. Editor's note: The full text of "I'm Going to See U2" can be found at http://www.tristatevoice.com/.

1 Comments:

At 12/07/2005 03:27:00 AM, Anonymous Ruben Sun said...

Tough one. I was hoping that I'd see others respond here.

Let me provide my input by reframing the question.

How can we in this contemporary society, reach towards genuine intimacy in an while the society where leisure is designed as to distract us from the complexities and unpleasantries of *reality*?

 

Post a Comment

<< Home