Something happened to me this morning that took me by surprise.
I was going through the news, reading about the burglars who broke into the FBI. They stole documents and leaked them to the press. It sparked my interest, so I started watching the video.
Immediately, I was back in 1971, and all the old feelings and thoughts rose up again. As I watched the video, I started to cry, really cry, and asked, “Ugh, I wonder what this is about?” I didn’t get an answer, so I went on in to work.
As I was working, I kept getting ideas like: You’ve got to let go of your legalism to walk in grace. ~It’s not your job to defend the truth. ~You don’t defend a lion, you let him loose. And ~It’s safe to be a legalist. You can always blame God.
And then God very quietly said, “There’s a lot of J Edger Hoovers out there.” And then it hit me in the stomach as I saw the Church. I saw all kinds of J Edgar Hoovers in the Church. I just hurt.
Pit Bulls For God
We have them in Pensacola.
You see them on the weekends, standing on the street corners, Yelling at the cars. “You’re going to Hell! Turn or burn!” as they yell Scriptures to prove their point.
They stand there with their well dressed wives and children, their signs waving, as they beat their Bible in hand.
And they stand outside of the bars at night, yelling at the people going in.
I have a lot of compassion for these guys and hurt for their families. The ones I’ve known and worked with over the years have been pretty decent and sincere. They’re trained to yell at people. It’s a part of their ministerial training. Can you imagine being apart of congregation where your pastor was taught to yell at cars?
I Was Trained To Be A Pit Bull
We were living in community on the campus of the University of Alabama. We went out to witness to the students every day. My wife and I were new believers and newly married when we hooked up with the Plymouth Breathern.
We were steeped in Scripture and Francis Shaffer, day and night. Then we were sent out every morning, and evening to “witness” to the students.
I’ll never forget that morning. There was a young student hurrying off to class. I stopped him to confront him with Jesus. He quipped, “I’m an atheist.” I looked at him and replied, “I’ve been wanting to meet an atheist. Just what Do you believe?”
The terror in that young man’s eyes stopped me. I was a trained pit bull, but I couldn’t go for the juggler. I just said, “Think about it,” as he walked off.
God’s Not A Legalist
God chose not to be right in Jesus Christ, but to be loving. He had every right to be right. God is perfect and holy and just. But God chose to save us, not to condemn us. Now the choice is ours.
Jesus didn’t choose to throw the first stone. And he’s the only one who legally could have.
When the disciples wanted to call down fire on the cities that refused Jesus, he rebuked them, and told them they were in the wrong spirit.
The only thing Jesus threw was the money changers tables. Jesus threw out the thieves who were stealing money from the poor in the house of God.
Is Pope Francis a Legalist?
So when Pope Francis is asked, “Is homosexuality a sin?” He responds with grace, not judgment, “Who am I to judge?” I’m stunned. Here’s a man who responds like Jesus, not a pit bull. He leaves room for God, instead of shutting the door.
You know we’ve been shutting the door and keeping everything safe for far too long. Ever since the Jesus Movement ended.
I’m writing to you who still have a choice. Choose eternal life. Choose Jesus.
Be like Jesus. Don’t be a J Edgar Hoover Christian. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Dive into the contemplative works of the Gospel of John. Listen to Jesus. Be his disciple. And work out what He works within you.
PS: Read This if you want to know what Pope Francis really thinks. This might surprise you. FYI I, like many Protestants was taught that the Pope was the Antichrist and that all Catholics were going to Hell.
And here’s the New York Times article: Burglars Who Took On F.B.I Abandon Shadows.