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When a headline makes you smile.

June 18, 2014

The eyes of much of the world have been on Brazil, or as I grew used to spelling it during my many missionary trips there, Brasil.  The FIFA World Cup has drawn the attention of the billions of football fans around the world.  As an aside, I must confess that soccer is the real football as it is actually played with the feet.  But there was one unofficial match just after a Cup match between Colombia and Greece in the charming city of Belo Horizonte that drew attention too.

The match featured a group of players who called themselves the Naked Football Club.  While they weren’t actually naked while they played, they were prostitutes and they were playing a local university club to raise awareness about the treatment of the thousands of sex workers in Brasil.  As curious as such a match might be, it was the teammates of the prostitutes that brought the eyebrow-raising headline:

Brazilian Prostitutes and Christian Evangelicals play soccer match on World Cup sidelines.

Yep, the prostitutes were joined by a group of American evangelicals who were there on a mission trip.  I easily found a half dozen articles on the match from well-known news organizations and they all were free of that negative and judgmental tone that so besets news article about evangelicals.  At times you could almost feel the amazement of the reporters that the evangelicals were nice people.

Dig a little deeper however and there were people who felt that the evangelicals were disgraceful; that they were promoting prostitution.  Many of these people were their fellow evangelicals who felt that the group was “glorifying sin,” to quote one commentator.  Were they?  I tend to doubt it.

If they were, they had good company – Jesus.  He aroused the ire of the religious establishment of the day by eating with “tax collectors and sinners.”  He freely engaged those with sinful lifestyles.  We give him a pass on his scandalous behavior because we know he was sinless and are sure that his primary motive was to bring souls to himself.

These Christians, we are told by some, don’t deserve the same pass.  Their actions, again we are told, will be seen as acceptance of the sinful practice of sex trafficking.  Perhaps some people will see it that way.  But I seriously doubt that is the way it really was.  They were simply practicing that oft-overlooked first step in engaging people as a Christian.

They figured out that if you want to convince people that they have a friend in Jesus you need to be friendly; open and loving to people just as they are.  They figured out that the Gospel is not a call to “clean up your act and then come to Jesus.”  They figured out that the only way to have a serious conversation with someone about the love of God was to let them experience what the love of a God-follower actually feels like.

And it was that figuring out that makes me smile.

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Kyle permalink

    Lovely to see! 🙂

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