Growing up, I was a big fan of The Dead Milkmen. They are a funny little punk rock band. Sometimes, they found a way to poke fun at various groups of people and still make a point. They wrote a song called “Methodist Coloring Book” (see below), which is a hilarious little song about God sending people who color outside the lines to hell. Hilarious! And yet, aren’t Christians known for condemning people to hell over some seemingly minor issues???
Yesterday, as I was listening to Gungor’s “White Man“, I was reminded of how Christians (including myself) have a tendency to reduce the Gospel message into these nice little points of who God is, who God loves, who God hates, and who will get into heaven.
Different Christians will have different points determined by their culture, their past, their values, their political preferences.
And so, we hear Christians say things like:
– God is a ______ man (fill in the blank with your particular racial background)
– God is Father
– God is Mother
– God is neither male nor female
– God loves conservatives
– God hates liberals
– God loves white Americans
– God loves those who love Him/Her/It
– God hates Muslims
– God hates homosexuals
– Drinking is a sin
– Dancing is a sin
– Playing euchre is a sin
– God hates you
– The United States is God’s new chosen nation
– Only people who believe the same things I believe will get into heaven
So, these statements get out there and help create stereotypes and generalizations about Christians and Christianity. Often, these statements turn people away from the Christian faith…rather than draw them nearer. These statements reduce the beauty of the Gospel of grace, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and love to a list of do’s and don’ts…a list of who is in and who is out…a list of generalizations that are often wrong.
The ones that really get me are when we try to decide who will and will not get into heaven. When we make statements along these lines…we’re really getting out there. Jesus makes it fairly clear that we shouldn’t be too sure about who is in and who is out. We all might be in for a big surprise come the judgment day! I just hope you don’t color outside the lines!!!
Generally, I find that it’s best to focus on myself and try not to be too harsh on others. I’ve got enough baggage to work through that I simply don’t have the time to decide who is right, who is wrong, and who will get into heaven. At best, all I can do is cling to my faith and do my best to live out the hope I profess.
Jesus had some pretty solid words regarding these types of things…
“Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them. You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, ‘My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You’re nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye.” ~Matthew 7:1-5
“Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only the ones who obey my Father in heaven will get in. On the day of judgment many will call me their Lord. They will say, ‘We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.’ But I will tell them, ‘I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!'” ~Matthew 7:21-23