it’s not a fashion statement, it’s a freaking deathwish

Last month, my wife and I made a week-long trip to Washington D.C. to visit her brother and his family.  He’s in the army and is stationed at the capitol as an honor guard.  It was the first trip to D.C. for both of us and we had a great time.  The day that stands out most to me is the day that we took a trip to Ocean City, a beach town in Virginia.  It was a fantastic day at the ocean and there’s an enormous boardwalk that stretches across the sand several hundred yards from the Atlantic.  Along this boardwalk, there’s t-shirt shops, restaurants, a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not interactive museum, and much more.

As I walked with Teresa and her brother John along the boardwalk that evening as the sun was setting, we came across some sand art that was sculptured just a few feet away from wooden walkway.  There were three giant sand sculptures showcasing the Gospel in sand-art form, it was beautiful and truly amazing.  My wife pointed out to me a man (who turned out to be the guy who made the sand art) sitting on the boardwalk with a young woman reading the Bible and sharing Christ with her.  As we walked back by a few minutes later, he was standing in front of the sculptures, leaning on a shovel, and talking about Christ.  There were quite a few people crowded around listening to him as he talked about Christ’s love for people and His passion to see them know Him and find their satisfaction in Him.  John summed it up well as we passed, saying “that’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

As we approached the middle entrance of the boardwalk, we could hear a loud voice speaking through a bullhorn.  There were three men, all wearing white t-shirts with the word “Repent” written in firey letters.  One held a large sign, I’m unsure what it said, but another of the men held a large microphone connected to a big speaker that the other man held.  As we passed, he shouted things like “If you smoke marijuana, you’re going to hell!  If you have pre-marital sex, you’re going to hell!, etc.”  Needless to  say, there were no large crowds gathering to hear this man speak.  Instead, as they passed by, they yelled at the men and told them to shut up (only not quite as nicely).

Your first response might be that the Gospel brings resistance out of the human heart and that by nature, people don’t want to hear and are opposed to the Gospel.  I would agree.  However, what I saw that evening was not people speaking Christ in love to their fellow humans.

The man by the sand art it appeared, had successfully brought the Gospel to the people of this beach town through a form that spoke to their culture.  Instead of just blaring his message through a bullhorn in anger towards the people, he had built something that spoke to their hearts and he did it in love.  The other men appeared angry and unable to make any connection with the passers-by.  Not only had they not reached into the world of the people in this beach town, they failed to show the love and compassion that Christ displayed for us and instead gave even more reasons for the people to be driven away from Christ.

I’m not calling for some watered down, wishy-washy Gospel that tickles the ears and makes everyone feel good.  All I’m asking is that we take a good, hard look at the way we are engaging the culture around us and what kind of message we want to send.  Learn the world around you, see the needs of the people that surround you, and find a way to bring Christ’s love into their lives.  God wants us to be captivated by Him, and when we are captivated by Him, we find the kind of satisfaction that only God can provide, and in the process, we bring glory to Him.  What tools has God given you to help others be captivated by Him?  They’re there, you just have to look for them – and it might take a little more effort than putting on a t-shirt and yelling through a bullhorn, but as you who are already captivated know, it’s worth it.

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