Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Be Good For Goodness Sake." Really?

In mid November, I, along with the other members of our church staff, went to the Tennessee Baptist Convention to serve as messengers on behalf of our church. Among the many individuals who gave presentations was Dr. David Dockery, president of Union University, who reported on the status of his fine institution. In the midst of his presentation he eluded to a campaign that was getting ready to be launched-- just in time for the uh... holiday season. The campaign has one, basic message: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake." He did not elaborate, but my interest was peaked. Today, I found out what it was all about.

On November 19, the American Humanists Association launched that campaign with an investment of some $40,000 in billboards and poster size ads in transportation terminals and other high traffic areas in and around the Washington D.C. area. "We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you," said Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group.

"Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of nontheists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."

I would be lying if I said that I was not angered and offended by this campaign. But before you jump to conclusions, let me share with you the source of my anger.

First, let me say that I defend any man's right to believe whatever he wants to believe. We live in the United States of America, the home of the free. God grants us free will. Even though God created us, He gave His creation the freedom to love Him or not love Him; to believe in Him or not believe in Him. Who are we to force our beliefs on anyone when our Creator does not even do that?

Secondly, my anger is not aimed at lost people who are only guilty of acting like lost people. My heart aches for all who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord.

No, my anger is grounded in the fact that the church tolerates this kind of activity. The church has been emasculated. Society decides that killing babies is okay- the church must be tolerant. Society decides that homosexuality is an approved alternative to God's plan and that marriage may be defined as something other than a union between one man and one woman- the church must be tolerant. Society decides that the "nontraditional religions" such as atheism or agnosticism are okay, but "traditional religion" like Christianity is not okay- the church must be tolerant. I am sickened by this.

This is the first ad campaign of its kind for a reason. This would not have seen the light of day fifty years ago. Some would call that progress. I call it a downward spiral that shows no signs of slowing down. While the A.H.A. has a right to believe what they want, I have the right to not like it. It cannot be legislated away, but we, the church, can speak loudly and clearly in other ways. If I was a businessman in D.C., the company who owns the ad space that was sold for this campaign would never see another dime from me-- and they would know about it.

Just as quickly as my anger is kindled, it gives way to a stark realization. We have a command and a commission to attend to. We have to start loving people to Jesus. While every fiber of your being may want to slap somebody upside the head with your "Merry Christmas!" instead of "Happy Holidays" this season, remember Whose you are and what He may want you to do instead. The church must, individually and corporately, plant its feet in the Truth and stand up. What are you doing? Do your coworkers know where you stand? Do your classmates? Does your neighbor? What about the waitress at you favorite restaurant? How about the Wal-mart clerk?
I am staring at an art piece that my momma gave me a few years ago. It says, "You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips." There is a lot of truth in that, however, even Jesus had to explain some things while performing His numerous miracles. If He couldn't get by without verbalizing a few things, who do we think we are?
More to come on this. There is quite a lot still rattling around up there.