Thursday, March 27, 2008

Does Fowarding E-Mail Truly Honor Christ?


I was recently forwarded e-mails that recounted the words of "comedian" Kathy Griffin's Emmy acceptance speech wherein she insults Jesus. Reading the quote I get the sense that she is being heavily satirical and this was not, in fact, an earnest insult. Please, don't misunderstand me. I still don't think this justifies her remarks. After all, they may not be earnest, but they are careless and irreverent of her Creator God.
Later, Kathy Griffin was on Larry King Live, a beacon of journalistic intrigue (did you see that time he interviewed Posh Spice about her hair? Brilliant!), explaining the intention behind her acceptance speech. She explained that the speech was a parody of all the starlets and rappers who thank Jesus when they win their trophies as if, "[Jesus] has nothing better to do than make sure that they win their awards."
Several months ago, as our staff was preaching through the book of Galatians we were simultaneously preparing for a day of prayer for the persecuted church. We researched and wept over current news reports of men, women, and families, torn apart, imprisoned and killed for loving and honoring Christ. These were not isolated incidents but things that defined their very existence. One man, Hua Huiqi, was of special interest to me. He was a pastor, whose mother was imprisoned on false charges so that Hua would be persuaded to divulge the names of his church members. When this failed to yield results Hua was attacked and hospitalized by members of China's Public Safety Bureau. I'm sure the irony is lost on no one. Later, Hua was released and placed under house arrest where PSB officers attacked him, yet again, for simply trying to use his own bathroom.
I think about Hua and the nature of his faith and testimony often. I am thankful that I live in America where it is quite safe to be a Christian. I also recognize the tension of our affluence and struggle with taking all my luxury for granted and therefore denying Christ in my self-sufficiency. I also recognize that our duty and our joy as American Christians are no different than Pastor Hua's. We both testify to the sufficiency, supremacy and authority of Christ as a present reality.
I therefore reason that as the gospel is affronted we stand and proclaim the truth of it, call people to repent, and demonstrate the gospel by loving those who antagonize us. This is the summation of God's law.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets."
Matthew 22:37-40

Here are excerpts of the e-mail in question that, I believe, adequately summarize its content.
"As a Christian I am offended by her hate speech…Kathy Griffin has the right as an American to say what she thinks. As a Christian American, so do I. Today I will refuse to watch any show that she may be on or purchase tickets to any event at which she would perform. What will you do?
…if you pass this on, you will truly have stood up for Jesus Christ. Let's see what Christians can do.
"
The reason I mentioned Hua earlier is that I want to be able to show anyone who reads this that I am truly attempting to approach this topic earnestly and carefully by demonstrating my concern rather than flex my opinionated ego. Only a few months ago I would have done the latter, ranting carelessly. Through Godly men in my life, Christ has led me to repentance for my previous actions and words and I am slowly coming around to being gentler with my criticism.
The first problem I have with e-mails like this is that I don't think forwarding them resembles taking a true stand for Jesus. I say this because taking a true stand for Jesus, historically, involves effort and sacrifice. I'm just not sure that when you compare what Hua and thousands like him have gone through to "pressing send" on your computer that it holds any water. It is seriously beginning to hurt me, imagining that a Christian would be satisfied that they've honored Christ by doing something so effortless.
I might be wrong - this may not peg you at all. Forwarding this e-mail may in fact be a sacrifice. You might sacrifice a friendship or some social standing or comfort as a result. If this is so, and you have acted in accordance with your conscience I hold nothing against you. However, I would caution you that this is NOT the e-mail to forward.
In the above excerpt I sense no passion, or heartache for the Kathy Griffin that would weep and mourn over her sin; who would fall to her knees and repent if she knew Jesus. Do you? I could be wrong. After all, it is hard to discern the tone from typed words and I would perhaps discern something different should the writer of this e-mail have a conversation with me.
In the end I'm not sure I've misjudged the content of this e-mail. It seems completely doctrinally correct yet completely void of love for someone who needs to know the risen Christ. It seems void of fear and concern for a soul that faces eternal torment apart from the intervention of Christ.
I would urge all those who harbor fear, rage, anger, and hate for Ms. Griffin or anyone who has so publicly denied Christ to repent. Repent of any lack of love that you have for the lost. Let us be careful to label such a simple thing as forwarding e-mail, a "true stand for Christ" as we consider how different it looks when compared to men like Pastor Hua.
To God be the Glory,
Cory Kitch
Central Valley Community Church

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since I usually only respond when I disagree, I figured I better respond one time to say I agree. I despise forwards that suggest that my forwarding or not forwarding is an expression of my love for Jesus or lack thereof. Though if someone wants to boycott some TV show, that's prolly good. Anytime away from the tube is prolly good.

Andy

Cory said...

Pastor Andy agrees with me? I feel all warm and fuzzy inside now!

Howard Fisher said...

So some actress says she doesn't believe in Jesus. To hell with her!

That is like American Family boycotting Walmart for not saying Merry Christmas.

Why are we so surprised when an unbeliever says they are unbelieving? Are we going to boycott everybody? Are we going to quit doing business with Mormons who produce cola? Are we going to throw Jews out for not setting up their Christmas trees? To what end does this achieve?

The very same Christians, who email me this stuff, won't offend anyone in a worship service and in fact attempt to produce entertainment on Sunday mornings to draw seekers and get people to like us.

In fact, they don't want to offend the world when it comes to what the Gospel is, but to hell with someone who is actually consistent with their beliefs.

Seems a bit over the top to me.

MarieP said...

Great post, How! And very good point about seeing no concern for Kathy Griffin as a lost sinner who needs Christ. Thankfully, God has been working on me in this area the last few months as well. We can know the correct words to witness with, but we can forget to love them and show concern for them too. God is not only concerned with the actual declaration of the Gospel, but with what motivations we have behind doing it. Sure, Paul was able to rejoice that the Gospel went forth even with less than pure motives, but that is not condoning the less than pure motives!

My pastor taught an excellent Sunday School lesson on this topic just a few weeks ago:

Motivation to Share the Gospel

Howard Fisher said...

Just to be clear, Cory wrote this post. I don't write that well.

:-)

AbReformed said...

Great stuff, Cory. I'm delighted to hear of what the Lord is doing in your life. May we all continue to strive to be full of grace and truth and love, as He is.

Aaron

Theo said...

"I therefore reason that as the gospel is affronted we stand and proclaim the truth of it, call people to repent, and demonstrate the gospel by loving those who antagonize us. This is the summation of God's law.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets."

Bravo Howard! This is indeed the heart of Christian practice. How sad it is that I so often fall down on both accounts, may God have mercy on me!

Your bro,
--Theo

Theo said...

OOPS!

Bravo Cory.

Howard Fisher said...

Once again, please keep in mind, when we stand next to each other, Cory is not only the better looking one, but he is also the smarter looking one.

:-)

Cory said...

Don't worry Howard...one day I'll be as old and as unattractive as you.