This is my response to something I watched and comments I read about it over at Raggamuffin Soul. It is the blog of Carlos Whittaker. Please take a few minutes and watch, listen, read, meditate…and then tell me what you think about it. Please.
Warning to any with virgin ears…Chris Tse drops a few gasp “F” Bombs towards the end. Well placed I might add. Chris Tse stood in front of a non Christian crowd and apologized on behalf of who they knew as Christians. I would love your thoughts on his poem.
Here is the video Los posted that elicited a flurry of understanding and hostile comments both.
I encourage you to click on the link above to read the comments that he has received as a result of posting this. Go ahead. Read them now. And then come back for my take.
As I watched the video, and listened to what Chris Tse says, my Southern Baptist upbringing immediately took hold and I braced for the offense that I knew I would take to what he would say. Thankfully, that only lasted for a moment as I really wanted to hear and understand why someone would apologize for being a Christian.
I got it. I understood his point and I understood his intent. Was I offended by the coarse language? Maybe I should have been, but like Los and some of his commenters point out, I’m guilty of the same. Maybe it’s the coarseness of my language, but more times than not, it’s a coarseness of heart, regardless of my choice of words. But if that becomes the focus of the discussion then the point, and the opportunity to meditate on and respond to what he’s saying gets lost.
I remember the first time I was challenged in a similar way and how it affected me. I was 17 or 18 years old, attending AtlantaFest, when it was still at the race track. Tony Campolo was one of the speakers and I was excited to hear him because my father, a Southern Baptist minister, had introduced me to some of his writings. I’m still very much challenged by his take on tithing and some of the stories he tells in The Kingdom of God is a Party. I challenge anyone to read that, and the story about the birthday party he gave for Alice, the prostitute. Very moving and eye-opening as to how we, the church, have made it unattractive to those on the outside looking in. I’ve digressed. I can already hear my wife saying, “Come on. Get on with it.” Thanks, dear.
What Tony Campolo said that evening was this: “There are 40,000 children in Africa dying every day due to hunger and disease. And you don’t give a damn about it. But what’s really tragic is this…most of you are so shocked and put off by the fact that I just used the word “damn” that you’ve already forgotten about the dying children.” Now I’m sure that’s not exact, so don’t give me grief over it. The essence is true, though. That hit me hard. I got it. I understood.
As I read the comments, and responses to comments, I began to think about the fact that the focus was being shifted off what was most important and being put on things that don’t matter. Does it matter how someone points out that we need to be…better…at being the church? Can’t we all be more loving and giving and less judgmental? Can’t we find more compassion and offer more grace and mercy? Can’t we focus on what matters most? Whoever is without sin…you know the rest.
I thought more and more about Jesus, which obviously was a positive outcome to my viewing the video. I thought about what Jesus focused on as he spent time with his disciples. I thought about who He spent time with and how He engaged them. As they were. Sinners. Just like all of us. What I remember most is love, compassion, forgiveness, mercy. What I can’t recall, though I’m sure someone will point it out for me, is Jesus focused on theology. Certainly not for the sake of theology, if He did. I think the closest He came was whenever He would engage the Pharisees. Weren’t they the “church” of their time? Weren’t they focusing on all the wrong things? Weren’t they making the church unattractive?
I love, love, love how Los put it. Again, paraphrasing, he said he’d rather engage with a few folks who were truly struggling with their faith and wanting to talk about how to be less “Christian”, but more Christ-like rather than argue theology with the masses. Don’t you think Satan finds satisfaction in our trivial arguments? Don’t you think he wants us to get bogged down in that muck? If we’re arguing theology, we certainly don’t have time to love and share our life with someone who needs it.
I’m sure there will be folks that disagree and find fault with points I humbly try to make here. That’s ok. I offer you the same grace and mercy that has been extended to me. Let’s just focus on what matters most.