Make Me a Roof Wrecker
Like so many Southern towns, mine is full of Bible thumpers. They are loud and insistent and zealous that you might come to agree with them. Very often their message is skewed; almost always they draw attention to themselves.
Not long ago, one tiny church here managed to cause an international uproar and city-wide embarrassment with its vociferous anger. A walk through our university’s liberal arts plaza is often accompanied by the impassioned shouts of a preacher assuring sorority and fraternity members of their place in hell. Even shopping at a grocery store in this town can be stressful, as a friend of mine found– she was accosted and then followed through the aisles by a woman intent on converting her right there, like an item to be crossed off a shopping list.
And I take note of these reckless approaches across my town with sadness because I know what these Bible thumpers want to do– I know they want to bring people to Jesus– and I see that all they really do is drive people away to anger or toward an angry god in fear.
This week’s sermon at my church was based on the story of Jesus’ healing of a paraplegic man. A huge crowd was gathered to hear Jesus speak at a home, and the crowd was so thick that there wasn’t even room left outside the door. But the friends of a paraplegic man knew how great his need of healing was; they knew they had to get him to Jesus. So they did whatever it took to get him there.
As our pastor explained how these men dug into and removed a section of the roof so they could lower their friend in, I thought, I would be so pissed if that were my house. But then I thought of how desperately I have felt the need to bring my dearest ones to Jesus, and I got it: When you have intimately experienced your own need and have found it met in God, your love for your friends compels you to get them into His presence, whatever it takes.
But when I look at these men’s bold approach, I see a few things that separate them from the Bible thumpers, and I think these things make all the difference– I see what it really takes. The Bible thumpers use fear to bring anyone within earshot to their point of view; The roof wreckers use love to bring their friend to Jesus.
Fear drives away. Love draws near.
Threatening those who disagree, shouting at passers-by, or hounding strangers inspires anger. Intentionally caring for the people right there in your life inspires love.
Bringing people to a point of view helps nothing. Bringing people to Jesus helps everything.
God, forbid I ever be a Bible thumper. Make me a roof wrecker.