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A Very Special Sunday

June 28, 2014

Tomorrow seems to be shaping up like a big day.  It is the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that starts at sundown tonight.  It is also the day of the big gay pride parades in New York and San Francisco.  Finally, the Family Research Council has scheduled “Call 2 Fall” where they ask churches to fall on their knees in repentance for the sins of our nation.  I’m not sure if there is any significance to this scheduling of colliding world views.

I do know that this year, as for several years now, many Christians have used Ramadan as a special prayer time for Muslims.  I’m not sure why we do.  If it is just a memory trick to use their holy days as a reminder to pray for them I am OK with that.  If it is sort of a poke in the eye; a way to tell them on the days when they are most celebratory of their faith that they have it all wrong it seems less gracious.  Imagine how we’d respond to a global Islamic effort to use Easter, Resurrection Sunday, as a special focus to tell us how wrong we are.

I suspect that there is more likelihood that Call 2 Fall was planned to coincide with Gay Pride Day.  It would be a picture of the culture war.  On one hand we have the most “out there” demonstration what it means to be gay and, on the other, a call for (among other things) a repentance of the acceptance of gays.  Both sides are using the day to make us choose one or the other.

For the most part, evangelical Christians fall into two groups on Muslims and gays.  The first group is those who love them.  You can identify this group by their propensity to say “I love Muslims/gays but….”and then go on to say things that are sure to infuriate those they love.  The second group is those that don’t hate Muslims/gays.  Not being quite as bold as Group A they say “I don’t hate Muslims/gays but…” and go on to say pretty much the same things.

Often evangelicals who say such things express dismay or even hurt that they are rarely, if ever, believed by those they love – or at least don’t hate.   It seems we have not yet perfected the way to communicate love and/or not hate to those we disagree with.  It is probably important that we learn to do this pretty quickly as neither Muslims nor gays show any signs of going away and, at least for the latter, legal decisions and the culture in general are drifting away from us.

Maybe on Call 2 Fall day we need to pray, above all else, for one thing.  Maybe we should beseech God how revel to us how we can truly and clearly communicate love to those who differ with us.  While I am not clear what that way looks like there is one suggestion I have.  Let’s agree not to lob “truth bombs” from our pulpits and computers telling them how wrong they are.

In Luke 19:1-10 we see the story of Jesus and his encounter with Zacchaeus.  It gives us an important clue as to how we may approach those who differ.  Jesus invited himself to the home of a man who was seen as despicable by the Jews.  They didn’t even pretend to love or not hate him.  While today’s social etiquette may not tolerate you inviting yourself to someone’s home it shows a clear pattern for us.

  1.  Be the kind of person with a reputation as someone who actually does love and accept others.
  2. Openly show that acceptance by being willing go to their house, to meet them on their terms.
  3. Note Jesus was received “joyfully.”  We can be too with a reputation for love and graciousness.
  4. No truth bombs were needed.  Jesus never said that Zacchaeus need to clean up his act.
  5. Zacchaeus came to his own decision to change his ways.

It sounds like a plan to me.

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