Blaming The Messenger
Originally posted November 22, 2013
This past week, a man was murdered within 3 short blocks of my home during a domestic dispute.
I was shocked. Numb. Confounded.
I had moved my family here after carefully reviewing the neighborhood, driving down the streets after dark, praying, until finally we settled in with good feelings all around. I set out almost immediately to witness to all of my neighbors on our block that we were Christians, and we were not ashamed of it. Furthermore, I let them know, by word or letter, that it was my mission to win them to The Lord Jesus Christ. I was going to make a good neighborhood better.
And that’s about as far as it went.
I didn’t think much more about my approach, or my efforts toward this end, until the killing just down the street. I first blamed, with a loud belligerent, angry voice, the ‘worthless police department’. They were less than two blocks away, and it seemed that there were always police just loitering around the station, ‘doing nothing’. How different might things have been, if they had only done a drive by!
Next door to the police station was the city administration building. There was always a snarl when the politics, or legislation came up from this place. NOTHING the city did was right, but they always thought they were right. This domestic quarrel that ended in bloodshed proved in my mind how ineffective government was to improve people’s lives. After all, they were so close… And yet they might as well have not been there at all.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, you could have thrown a rock and hit the local high school. They had just finished a summer-long remodel/addition to this monstrosity of education- and yet it stood like a tombstone, powerless to resurrect the corpse it so meticulously guards. “He that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” (Ecclesiastes 1:18) could never be more true with the sad crime scene just around the corner.
In case you haven’t noticed, my ‘closure’ comes from blame… and I pointed to everyone and everything- a multimillion dollar event center, the drug houses, the poverty. And it wasn’t until I drove by the house myself, just a day or so after the tragedy, that I finally pinpointed the real culprit.
I realized as I slowed to look in the lifeless windows of a vacant house, that I had said with my life and actions, my apathy and neglect, my carelessness and lack of compassion, I had said with everything but my mouth: “I am not concerned about your soul. I live here, I am a Christian, that should be enough for you.”
The plain truth is, I thought that the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ was a communicable disease. I had driven by this house countless times per week, I had walked by this house, but I had never attempted to present the good news of Jesus Christ with the souls at this habitation of sorrow. I had thought, like so many demented church-goers, that I could ‘lifestyle-evangelize’ them into Heaven. That in some mysterious fashion, by the bumper sticker on my car, the joy in my heart, the hearty hello wave on my way to work would whisk them into a spiritual state of mind, and bring them to search their heart and the Scriptures, and this ‘Gospel disease’ would somehow jump from me to them.
The Message of salvation had been mutated in my mind into nothing more than a germ, a glorified infection.
I had failed to intervene in the destiny of these souls because I never spoke the truth at all; let alone in love. The failure did not rest with the government, the police, the educational system, the entertainment industry, or even immorality and sinfulness that lurked just around the block. It was the Christian that lived down the street, who hadn’t yet understood that the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ was a gift to be given, and not a germ to be caught.
It’s good to have the testimony to back up your witness, but its no good to have a life that is gagged. And honestly, if it’s a gift worth having, wouldn’t it be worth a second, or a third try?
Lets be outspoken Christians TODAY. Lets give out the gift of eternal life, as it was presented to us. Lets get a vaccine, once and for all, from this mindset of gospel germology, and go, preach the Gospel to every creature– before they are the headline on your newspaper.
Cover photograph by Lucas Zimmerman