Monday, November 21, 2005

Jesus Between the Hedges

Football “between the hedges” is a big deal for UGA fans and this past weekend was no exception. 80,000 plus people gathered at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium to watch their beloved “Dawgs” “hunker down” against Kentucky (Georgia vs Kentucky ) for a “one step closer” advance towards a Sugar Bowl bid whilst, in the distance, a huge banner is unfurled “God Hates Sin”.

Was the banner accurate? Yes (It did not say “God Hates Sinners” and this is good.) But, could it be that the message is only one aspect of the total story? Moreover, is it the chief message we as Christ’s followers should put forward to a fully packed stadium?

The “banner guy”- zealous no doubt and possibly with good intentions- stood on the bridge above the end zone and held out his banner for all to see. Certainly, the message has merit. People do need to know that God is holy and doesn't just "smile and wink" at their sin. Yet, was it a banner that Christ would have us pick as a visual aid for addressing the masses? Moreover, would Jesus unfurl a banner of His hatred of sin whilst excluding a testament to His love of mankind?

A friend commented. “I don’t think Jesus would have picked it. In fact, I think it does harm to the message of Christ. More harm than good, in fact. Even more, I think Jesus would have picked a different message. I think He would have keyed in on His love and not his hatred.”

In a gospel “déjà vu” account previously seen in the prophet Isaiah, Jesus gives us a clue:

He (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
(Luke 4:16-21, NIV)

Although it is not the case for SEC football, in neighborhood sports you sometimes get a “do over”. Maybe, the guy on the bridge could use one here?

You decide. Both messages have merit. What would you write on the banner? And while you're at it, how do you think the life of the church (gathered and scattered) should read (
banner or none) to everyone that encounters her way of living and loving each other and all others?



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