Why would anyone be involved in a work which results in a regular torrent of abuse, hatred and even death threats? Not for the fun of it, or for the money; that’s for sure. Sadly it seems to go with the territory. When you dare to proclaim truth in the public arena, all sorts of folks are going to get real angry at you.
And they certainly let you know about it. Want proof? Well I have plenty of it for you. In the early days when the hate mail poured in I just trashed it right away. I sure did not want the rest of my family to see this sick, perverted and diabolical stuff. And I am not too keen on seeing it either.
But a few years ago I decided it might be of use to collect all this venomous material – not because I am a glutton for punishment, but because it may one day come in handy. You see, the other side loves to go on and on about the virtues of tolerance and acceptance and diversity.
But the stark truth is, these guys tend to be the most intolerant, hate-filled people on the planet. And I have their comments to prove it. So in an ever-expanding document of fine print I have all their words of tolerance and diversity stored up. It is quickly becoming one of my bigger documents!
While I am a normal human being and am not thrilled with all this abuse and hatred, I have come to expect it and accept it in a way. I realise that so many of these folks are deep down really quite unhappy and messed up, and they are lashing out as a way to cope.
So they pour contempt on me and my God, and exalt in their rebellion and defiance. But I too once scoffed at God, mocked him, ignored him, and disdained him. And I treated his followers the same way. Yet God was extremely patient with me, and tremendously merciful. He graciously allowed me to shake my fist at him for so many years.
But I finally came to my senses. Like the prodigal son, I thought I had total freedom. But I was simply captive to my sin and selfishness. Indeed, it was the same way the prodigal son was “free”: he had the whole pigsty to himself. When he snapped out of his illusion, however, he came home to find his father waiting for him with open arms.
In fact, the father ran to the wayward son, embraced him, and threw a big party for him (see Luke 15:11-32). That is how father God welcomed me home, and all who come back to him through his son Jesus Christ. I tell my story of being a prodigal here: billmuehlenberg.com/2012/06/27/coming-home-my-testimony-part-1/
So I know that God waited patiently for me, and he is doing the same for all my many critics. And I must do the same. So I often pray for these folks who send in their hate mail. The hope is many of these folks will one day come to see the love and grace of God, and recognise how bad the pigsty really is.
One fellow who has a similar story to me – we were even converted to Christianity at just about the same time – is Michael L. Brown. He too gets plenty of hate mail and death threats because he too is willing to proclaim truth in the public arena.
He tells an interesting story of a neat experience he has just had. I will let him tell the story in his own words, but I encourage you to read both articles of his which I link to below.
Last week, one of the pastors of my home congregation was informed by the police that there would be a gay protest outside of our church service on Sunday morning. A local gay website carried this announcement: “We will meet just before Service begins, and protest as they gather, we will have a silent protest as service is going and let them have it as they leave for the day. Remember we will be peaceful and respectful, something they don’t understand. We are going to STAND TOGETHER AS A COMMUNITY to show that our love is stronger than their hate.”
In response, I wrote on my blog: “On behalf of FIRE Church, I want to extend to you the warmest welcome and let you know that we are thrilled that you are here with us on Sunday. We have been praying for you for a long time!” Interestingly, the blog entry, which ran about 325 words, received more hits than any of my previous entries. What made it so attractive?
Scott Volk, the pastor who received the heads-up from the police, posted a gracious invitation to the protesters on the same gay website that announced the event, letting them know they would be welcomed warmly. “In all our years here,” he wrote, “we’ve only desired to reach out with love to everyone in the local community here whether they are labeled as gay or straight. Hopefully, you’ll see that love demonstrated on Sunday as you protest.”
When Sunday morning came, about ten protesters showed up, and they were greeted with water, snacks, and genuine Christian love. Within a few minutes of dialog, they left, telling us we were too nice and loving to deserve a protest. When I posted an announcement on my Facebook page with this update, it received more “Likes” than any other post in memory. What prompted such a positive response?
On Monday, the organizer of the protest called into my radio show to apologize publicly for the protest, explaining that their “anger . . . was aimed [in] the wrong direction.” He continued, “Once we got there Sunday morning we were greeted with absolutely perfect love. I mean, it was fantastic.”
He accepted my invitation to meet him for dinner in the near future, not for the purpose of having a theological argument (I assured him that was not my intent) but to discuss how we could live side by side in the same city with such profound differences dividing us.
He concludes: Without a doubt, when we are convinced of the rightness of an issue, as people with strong biblical beliefs, we will take a stand, regardless of cost or consequence. (I know there are cowards and hypocrites among us, but there are plenty of committed Christians who are willing to stand up for what is right, even when it means swimming against the tide and going against the grain.) And there’s no question that some of us are drawn to conflict and controversy. But for the most part, we would rather be friends than fighters, ambassadors of reconciliation rather than culture warriors. The events of this past week underscore that clearly.
And he concludes his other article with these words: When the Lord called me to get involved with homosexual issues eight years ago, He said to me, “Reach out and resist,” meaning, “reach out” to the people with compassion and “resist” the activist agenda with courage. Is it possible to do both? By God’s grace, the answer is yes, and in the end, love never fails.
So if we keep on speaking the truth in love, we will have such an impact. Sure, not everyone will lay down their arms and embrace the gospel, but some may eventually. And that is why Michael, I and others keep doing what we do. We are not all that keen on the abuse and controversy, but we are very keen on sharing truth and seeing people set free by the wonderful gospel of Christ.
Thus if you are one of those who sometimes – or often – come to my site, leaving rather ugly and vicious comments, be forewarned: I am praying for you and God is still graciously waiting for you. And Jesus is still standing there, with his extended arms revealing his nail-scarred hands.
He will also run to you, embrace you, and throw a big party for you if you see your need of him. If you tire of your fist-shaking at God, your reliance on your own human reason and ability to make it through life, your own ego and pride, and have had enough, then he is still there, waiting. If you repent of your sins, and agree with him that the pigsty really does stink, then you too can find a completely new life in Christ.
And you will never regret it if you do.