Saturday, September 15, 2007

Walking for Jesus (and the Ensuing Inner Battle)

If you’re a New Zealander, chances are you heard all about the Castle St riots that happened here in Dunedin a few weeks back. You’ve probably seen the images of gazillions of crazed student revelling around couch fires and the police in all their riot gear giving them the smack-down.

For all the sad stuff that happened, however, the madness of the Undie 500 weekend served as the catalyst for motivating a group of churches in Dunedin to start a unified campaign to counter the drinking culture so prevalent in Dunedin. They call it ‘Bring the Love’ and say: “We intend to demonstrate practical love to those who are caught in the tide of the drinking culture. We can and we will offer an alternative to the reckless abandon that dominates the social lives of so many.”

What has inspired me to write this post is that tomorrow afternoon ‘Bring the Love’ is doing a ‘commitment walk’ down the more notorious streets of Dunedin, praying and cleaning up as they go. In their own words, “This walk…is not a “march”, or declaration of anger at what has happened, but rather an opportunity to show that there are many who care about the residents of our town.”

I will be there. I think it is great that the churches in Dunedin are taking responsibility and showing the initiative in bringing positive change to society. I want to show my support for the church, and get behind what my leaders are doing. This walk won’t achieve much in the grand scheme of things, it is mainly to get us noticed. But I want to say I support what they are doing.

For all this though, I’m freaking out! This walk is fairly harmless as far as evangelism goes. I won’t be getting into awkward conversations with strangers and leading them to repentance, let alone standing and preaching from a soap-box or anything. I’ll just be walking, and praying, and picking up rubbish with a (hopefully) large group of other Christians. Yet for some reason I find it so hard to associate myself with a cause so obviously 'christian' without twinges of shame. I hate being scared, I hate being put outside my comfort zone, but when I read biographies of great men I am confronted every time with the fact that they fought and struggled against opposition. Needless to say, it seems to me that it is not noble to live only in the realm of earthly comfort.

I have many intellectual questions about how to go about evangelism, which I won’t bring up here, but I do find it too easy to rationalise not doing anything. I’m not saying we shouldn’t think critically about what the church is doing in the community, but it is bad if that stops us doing something. In this I am always challenged by Bryan Chapell’s sermon, simply called “Say Something: Why Christians should share their faith” (downloadable here).

Anyway I don’t have much more to say. No doubt I’ll write in here tomorrow about how the walk went, hopefully with more stimulating, better organised and 'christian' thoughts than a rant about why I don’t want to do it.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious and I wasn't there (didn't even catch the news).. but would my immediately thinking of Matthew 6 ("Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them..") be just my off-base knee-jerk reaction? Curiously at the end of Matthew 6 is Jesus' admonition, "[t]herefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself".

So anyway, hope you found it good

Marcus said...

hmmm...I'm inclined to point at the bit in verse 2 where says "that they may be praised by others." Based on this i'd say Matthew 6 is getting more at the motives for doing stuff rather than the action itself. I can't speak for others there, but I certainly wasn't doing it to get honoured by men.

You may have an interesting point with regards to getting the media involved though, quite possibly with some truth in it.