We live in an Automat world. If you aren’t old enough to remember an Automat (I don’t think there are any around any more; if I’m wrong I’d like to know) they were a place where you could walk in, find what you wanted, put in some money, get that food, move on to another little door, repeat until you have enough. No menus, just lots of choices which you could put together however you chose. Think of it as a kind of walk-in vending machine, with tables.
Today, when it comes to matters of choosing faith, an awful lot of people treat their “god” the same way. A little plate of Buddhism, a side of Paganism, with (if you went to church as a kid) a dash of “christianity lite” on the side. And this is okay in our ‘anything goes, love the one you’re with, if it works for you that’s great’ culture. Absolutes are out, a la carte religion is in.
This makes it tough for folks like me, who believe in absolutes. In THE Absolute, in fact.
I grew up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. After confirmation (which, if you don’t know anything about the Lutheran Church, is when you say you agree with all the stuff everyone else said for you when you were baptized as a baby/little kid), I flirted with Pentecostalism, Catholicism and other variants on mainstream Christianity, but we never really got serious about one another. I went back to Lutheranism for awhile, even. Then, after I met my husband (well, he wasn’t my husband then, but he got to be later), we went to the church where he wanted to be married. This church was a basic, Bible-believing church with no denomination on the door or looking over the altar to supervise. The bottom line was the Bible, which was presented as God’s inerrant, inspired word. I didn’t have a problem with that, because that’s one place where this church agreed with what I was taught as a child.
After several months of attendance (and premarital counseling — hi, Pastor Dean, wherever you are!) I realized that this was where I wanted to be. No denomination, just believing in and living for Jesus with His word and the Holy Spirit as my teacher and helper. And so, I became <theramin music> — a FUNDAMENTALIST! <scream> </scream> </theramin>.
This is where I get to the point, I promise. According to popular current opinion, we fundamentalists are embarrassing and offensive. Not only do we insist on believing in absolutes: good/bad, right/wrong, white/black, and (oh, no!) in a very specific, non-PC God and in Jesus Christ, we also insist on sharing those viewpoints with the world on the basis that we are right and we want to (gasp! shock!) save the people who don’t share those viewpoints.
To those of you who fall into the “offended” category, let me ask you this. Let’s suppose that someone you love very much was driving along an apparently wide, smooth highway. Looks great. No problems; 65 mph and not a hazard in sight. But I know, (because I was warned), that the road ends abruptly ahead. There’s a great, big chasm ahead and no bridge. Anyone who keeps cruising along this road is going to go crashing into this valley and die. But I also know that there’s another road. Doesn’t look as snazzy, but I know for a fact that this is the only safe side road there is. How would you feel about me when you heard the knock on your door, got the bad news and later found out that I knew all about the end of the road but just sat there on the side of the road and let your loved one go on to die?
That’s how the Lord feels about it, too. He asked us to let others know what we learned. He loves all those who don’t believe or only think they do (including me at certain points in my life) so much that Jesus died, and by His death, built a bridge to end the separation of God and man caused by our sin. And He doesn’t expect me to sit around and watch everyone zoom by without so much as a warning on my part.
So remember that when I (or some other ‘offensive, annoying’ person) tries to talk to you about what Jesus did for you. We aren’t trying to offend, but we can’t help it. We know that the road can come to an end with no warning — our life on this earth is so short and so fragile — and we want to try to keep you from hurtling into that abyss if we can.
Whether you believe it or not, the Lord loves you, and we do too. No one who truly trusts in and believes in Jesus Christ takes any pleasure in the thought that people are entering eternity on the wrong road. Really.