As I walked through the streets of Boston on this beautiful sunny day I witnessed a guy engaging in street evangelism. He perched his white board with colored diagrams and arrows on a trash can, and he talked to people passing by about God’s love and salvation. For the few who actually stopped to listen he asked, “Do you want to know how much Grace God has? God’s grace is big enough even for Giants’ fans.” I heard this and thought, “Really?”
I saw people walk away. Some with cynical smiles and some with shoulders slump as the wind went out of them. Maybe they thought they were about to hear something good, something real, something different than the normal sandwich-board-wearing-crazy-street-prophet. In an attempt to talk about God’s love and make it relevant this guy trivialized it. I hope he was joking, yet his eyes shined with triumph as he thought he had a connection point with his audience. The last thing people need is another imitation of grace – a cheap buy from a street vendor.
Real grace heals real pain, brings real reconciliation, and covers a multitude of sins. (and cheering for a different sport team is not a sin!)
I guess I’m frustrated because I believe that God’s love is a tangible reality that truly can make a difference in people’s lives and in this world, and when people use trivial examples in an attempt to make that truth relevant they saturate an already flooded market of religious delusion.
It reminds me of an old commercial from Folger’s Crystals.
A hidden camera pans a fancy restaurant dining room while a hushed voiced says, “We’ve secretly replaced this restaurant’s normal gourmet coffee with Folger’s Crystals to see if anyone will notice.” Then they conduct personal interviews with people and many of them show surprise. If 9 out of 10 people can’t tell the difference between Folger’s and gourmet coffee, then it doesn’t mean that Folger’s is gourmet. Rather, it means that 9 out of 10 people don’t know what makes great coffee.
God’s grace does not need to be dumbed-down or secretly replaced with relevant, cheapend examples for people to experience the truth of God’s love.
Is God’s grace big enough for Giants’ fans? Yes! Yet the grace is for them as people and not because they are Giants’ fans. God’s grace is big enough for people who have good intentions, yet give cheap imitations. And thankfully, God’s grace is big enough for people who rant and rave about poor evangelism…