I’m not sure where it is in the Bible, but it seems a lot of Catholics think being a Jerk is helpful.
I love my Catholic faith, it is great to be a christian! But, it doesn’t give me permission to be a jerk. Quite often I’m encountering people of faith who in the name of Christ are being complete Jerks… to bring people to Jesus?
Jerks for Jesus?
The unfortunate thing is it comes from a nice place we try to call “evangelization”, “righteousness” or “apologetics”. Now, I love all those words in their right contexts, but I don’t think being a jerk is living them out correctly. Being right is wrong when you forget charity and mercy.
I’ve encounter youth and adults in my years of ministry (family included) who have distanced themselves from their faith and the church simply because of jerks. Sometimes these jerks were actually trying to evangelize, or teach, or counsel … except, they were hurtful in their approach. Well I hate to break it, but that approach doesn’t work. Mission not accomplished.
A pierced heart is a soft heart
I get in trouble sometimes by ranting about some methods in our church that “attack” culture, abortion, relativism. I’m on the record of being as pro life as anyone, but disapproving with many of our strategies to “convince” people. I watch a lot of debates, see some youth coordinators get into heated and personal arguments with youth and adults over dogma. I find often we try to pierce harden hearts with hardened methods. I think that’s backwards. I think we need to soften hearts. So my wife and I believe as a family we’re called to a more beautiful and creative way. So we did things like this through Deep Thoughts Big Red Chair.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our jerks, by our jerks!
I was stumbling through my commonplace notes, and found this keeper passed on to me by my Bishop:
The challenge for us as Christians is that they demand to see Christ in each one of us; they want us to reflect Christ as clearly as a pane of glass transmits the rays of the sun. Whatever is opaque and besmirched in us disfigures the face of Christ in the church. What the unbeliever reproaches us with is not that we are Christians, but that we are not Christian enough: that is the tragedy. When Ghandi read the gospels, he was deeply moved and wanted to become a Christian, but the sight of the Christians around him stopped him and made him withdraw. Such is the great weight of our responsibility.
-Cardinal Suenens, The Future of the Christian Church
If those we are trying to reach out to just leave with an experience of pain, shame, and being belittled – we are being jerks, not christians. So maybe this Sabbath let us take some time off from strategy and instead examine the jerkiness in our ministry.
And yes, I’m working on a “jerk examine” devotional.
Keep it real and jerk free.