My old mate Dale McAlpine has been missing from the streets of my home town recently. Perhaps he’s saving himself for Pride when he can ‘coincidentally’ turn up with his fellow street-preachers and try to ruin the celebration. He hasn’t updated his blog for two years either. I’m really quite worried about him. Perhaps he’s realised the error of his ways and has abandoned all that Salvation clap-trap has taken up a more rational approach to life. I do hope so. Or perhaps he’s just given up trying to reach people for Jesus; maybe the folk where I live are so reprobate even the mighty
Dale Jesus can’t reach them. I’d like to think so.
Dale, like other joyless evangelists, is fond of asking those he’s haranguing, ‘are you a good person?‘ It’s a loaded question, of course, because no matter how you answer it, the street preacher is able to use it to direct the ‘conversation’ (in which he has a megaphone and you don’t) around to Jesus. If you say ‘yes, I am a pretty good person’, the evangelist will then ask you if you’ve ever told lie or stolen something; if the answer is ‘yes’, he will then pronounce you ‘Not A Good Person’ and point out how, as a result, you are in need of Jesus. Easier to answer ‘No,’ in the first place, ‘I’m not a good person’ and get it over with quickly, leading, as this does, more directly to the saving power of Jesus. He alone, apparently can save you from not being good, stop you stealing the paper clips and save you from sin. Because, as everyone knows, accepting Jesus into your life automatically makes you a good person. (It doesn’t? Okay, but we’ll leave that for another time.)
Of course it might be the case that you really are a mass-murderer, child-molester or fraudster, and this may indeed disqualify you from being ‘a good person.’ But most of us are not; we’re just ordinary folk living ordinary lives with the characteristics, flaws and foibles that result from being raised by other ordinary folks with flaws and foibles of their own. If, on the other hand, you really are a bad person, it’s hardly likely you’re going to tell Dale and his pals about it in the middle of a public street.
However you regard yourself, it’s far better not to answer the likes of Dale at all; what right have they to know whether you regard yourself as a good person or not? What right have they to expect you to declare it publicly? Why should you respond to an agenda set entirely by them? None at all. Just shake the dirt from your Nikes and walk away.
If, however, you do feel inclined to engage with the religiously disturbed, you could try telling them you are neither a good person nor a bad one, because that is what most of us are; complex individuals who really can’t be delineated in such a nonsensically simplistic way. Only the religious seek to define human psychology with the false dichotomies of good and evil, right and wrong, righteous and unrighteous. Responding that you are neither good nor bad, while quite possibly both at the same time, is much too complicated for them. They will judge you a smart arse unworthy of God’s Grace and pretty quickly move on to a fresh victim.
On behalf of the genuine followers of Christ who are trying to actually be good and do good in our world I apologize for the Dales who use a bully microphone to browbeat their agenda on people and call it Christianity.
Well, thank you for that, BJ, but of course Dale would say, and indeed does say, that he is a genuine follower of Christ too. As do browbeaters like Westboro, Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson… and who are we to say they are not? Indeed, they might well be of the view that it is you who are not the true follower because you don’t engage in the same level of browbeating/soul-saving/evangelism as they do.
I’m not defending them here, far from it, but when every kind of Christian claims they are the only ‘genuine followers’, it becomes impossible to tell you apart.
Well, the scripture that both I and those you named would claim as our authority gives us a very clear indicator of how a Christian is to be known. Over and over again in the book of First John it says that anyone who does not love does not know God.
Equally, there are verses in the Bible that allow Christians of all stripes to prove themselves right – and others wrong.
The love First John speaks of is that of believers for one another. As far as unbelievers are concerned, John is less charitable, saying they are of the devil: ‘The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning’ (1 John 3.8). Just the kind of justification ‘browbeaters’ need to do what they do.