The book I’m currently reading, James Emery White’s Christ Among the Dragons, is all about the Christian engaging with culture. One chapter highlights the importance of actually getting to the nitty-gritty and inviting people to follow Jesus. Many churches, he claims, even in the emergent generation are rightly concerned about identifying with and appealing to the prevailing surrounding culture. There has been a resurgence of interest in showing Jesus’ love by serving others and fighting against injustice, and rightly so.
However, he notes, perhaps some churches are simply swapping one half of the gospel for the other and “never seizing it’s whole, transforming, revolutionary intent for the whole world.” In other words, in all your good work, don’t forget to share the gospel!
God’s love is like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep, going out of his way to find it, or like the woman who has lost her valuable coin and turns the house upside down to recover it. Or like Father in the parable of the prodigal son, always looking out for the son to come home – eager to welcome him. It is a desperate search.
At the end of the chapter he shares an incident which happened to prominent athiest magician, Penn Jillette, the vocal half of the Penn and Teller duo. Coming out of an evening show, some of the audience had stayed behind to meet the performer. There was one man who was waiting to speak to Penn. He said he liked the show, and he had brought something for him. The man gave Penn a New Testament and Psalms.
I believe he knew that I was an atheist. But he was not defensive… He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me, and then gave me the Bible. And I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that these is a heaven and a hell and that people could be going to hell… How much to you have to hate them to not proselytize? How much o you ave to hate somebody to believe that everlasting like is possible, and not tell them that?
Watch Penn’s whole video blog – it’s extraordinary: