As I stepped out of stuffy lecture halls into the bright, open spring sunshine last Monday afternoon, the last thing that I expected to encounter was a riot in the park blocks.
Looming before me like a sudden cloud in the horizon, a huge banner unfurled that somehow seemed to block the sun. My heart sank as I suddenly began to make sense of the situation. Two or three middle-aged men stood in the center of an enraged mob, yelling and being yelled at, somehow trying to share their messages. The men held enormous signs that spelled out their “gospel” direct and to the point: Support Bush, Trust Jesus. I staggered around awhile and then finally left discouraged and disappointed. Jesus, it seemed, had been patented by the Republican Party.
You’ve probably seen these “preachers” before. A notorious one faithfully shows up on the park blocks right out in front of the Smith Center every other day or so in the afternoons.
Some people mock, some argue and shout; others just continue reading and go on with their day. Others, like me, walk by and don’t know what to do. The thought always crosses my mind, “should I say something, or do anything?” Usually I just continue by, turn to my friends and tell them that just because you say you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you are.
I’m writing this because I am a Christian and I don’t believe that Christ has been represented in this whole “street preacher in-your-face, you sinner” situation. My purpose is not to explain them away or judge them. I’m sure they feel committed to what they’re doing. It’s really not about them though. It’s about how they are representing Jesus in a way that’s not genuine. I felt it necessary to explain that this is not the way it’s supposed to be – all the shouting and judgmental bickering. Grace and mercy should not be exchanged for anger and unyielding self-righteousness.
Jesus is not a republican, or a democrat or even an American, though many would love to claim him as being on “our side.” Jesus is definitely not some white, middle-aged guy that wants to shove his beliefs down your throat. The Bible says that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free (Isaiah 63). It says that he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
I don’t have all the answers, or think that I have some perfect “corner” on truth. I know someone who does though. The love that He shows is not like what some people claim Christianity to be.
As I have been talking on the false representation of Jesus, many might ask who Jesus really is. Jesus is definitely not church, or religion or all the bad experiences you’ve had with people that have claimed to know Christ. Christians, at best, are all just frail representations. If you really want to know, read the Bible for yourself. Also, maybe the next time some street preacher is yelling, look around and you might be able to see someone like me standing on the side, just trying to show Jesus’ love everyday.
Stephen Andes, PSU student