Sunday, April 05, 2009

Time To Re-Evaluate

I was amazed this morning when our pastor used a segment of a video blog site, "Crackle", to shame me. Not that this was his intention, no indeed. But that's what I felt at the end of his message. And not just any blog, this is where Penn Jillette's personal video blog, "Penn Says", is located and where a personal observation made by Mr. Penn was used to great effect.

Most everyone has heard of the Penn and Teller team. They delight in exposing hypocrisy and sham. Mr. Penn is a liberterian and a confirmed atheist. Here's a sample:

But someone, a Christian, made a big impression on Mr. Penn last December. He gave Mr. Penn a bible.

Not that Mr. Penn made a confession of faith or anything like that. But notice his words; he describes this person three times as "good" or "very, very nice." Listen closely to what he says about proselytizing - the act or process to convert someone, to persuade them to accept your beliefs.

What are Mr. Penn's words? They were like a dagger to the heart of many professing Christians, I fear.
They were to mine.

"How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them?"

This from the mouth of an atheist.

Penn further states that if a truck is bearing down on you there is a point in time where "I have to tackle you." How tenacious are many Christians in witnessing? Do we give up too easily? Just how much do we believe Scripture and how willing are we to be "socially awkward?"

Mr. Penn's hospitable reception to this Christian's efforts was based on his perception that this was a "very, very, very good man." Mr. Penn sensed that this man was really concerned about his spiritual well being.

There was a reaction to Mr. Penn's video blog from the Christian community. Listen to what Mr. Penn has to say about that.

The question that was thrown in my face this morning was this, "Do I truly believe the Bible as it is written and am I willing to act on it?" Words without actions are nothing but wind.

But Mr. Penn's reaction to the gift of a bible was based on his perception that this man actually cared. You could see that he was stirred by this encounter. How many times do we mechanically react to what is perceived as our Christian duty without really caring for the people we are inflicting ourselves on? Do we bother to learn anything about them? Do we truly approach them as a friend? Or are we like the man on the street corner shouting at people trapped in a bus stop? Or the woman railing at school administrators at a PTA meeting?

The Apostle Paul knew this. He speaks to it in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Mr. Penn reacted to something that he sensed in that Christian. Can we say he would sense that in the rest of us?

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