Young and Old Christians Speak Up-Stand Up (first 2.29.12)
Acts 2,4: "as the Spirit gave utterance."
Numbers 11,29: "would that all the Lord's people were prophets."
Psalm 12,4 woe to us who think "our lips are our own."
Archie Bunker (does anyone remember "All in the Family"?) used to tell Edith, whenever she piped up "Go stifle yourself!"
It wasn't that Edith's occasional word in edgewise was off base, it was that Archie wanted to keep her quiet.
Well churches are a bit more subtle, especially in today's politically correct world, but it's hard to avoid thinking that sometimes they would still prefer that the unordained just "pray, pay and obey."
But the bible says our lips and tongues belong to God (Psalm 12,4). And I'm thinking that the whole point of the Christian Pentecost, which is still happening today, was to give us all free speech, to loosen all our tongues, and give us all the right to speak up and spread the gospel.
In mid January a twenty-two year old named Jefferson Bethke rustled up a camera and shot "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." After being posted on YouTube, it garnered a mere 18 million hits (and still counting). The title is admittedly rather raw (sort of like the whole book of Revelation), and it ruffled quite a few religious feathers.
The somewhat overwrought Mr. Bethke was promptly and publicly corrected by a host of volunteer elders. His ecclesiology was arguably a little off. And yes a suitable committee was convened to study the matter of dissafected youth.
But this predictable "religious" attitude of offense, as expressed by perfunctory theological niggling and hand wringing, misses the point.
He spoke up.
In a time when the silence of Christian leaders is deafening- he spoke up. Silence about being taken for granted by Washington, silence about the immoral excesses of Wall Street, silence about the underfed masses of sheeple who receive just a fraction of the gospel teaching. Silence about church budgets and priorities.
Besides, eighteen million hits- perhaps (selah) the Holy Ghost was behind the whole thing?
He spoke up- relatively unedited, unconcerned for the collection, and for the committees and the tempest in a teapot that awaited him.
But then as New York Times Columnist David Brooks pointed out, he sort of caved amidst the tempest. Brooks wanted him to stand up for himself and opined:
"Mayby people today are simply too deferential. Raised to get college recommmendations, mayby they lack the oppositional mentality necessary to revolt. Mayby people are too distracted." (February 3, 2012, NYT p. A25)
Instead of publicly correcting and stifling Bethke (perhaps even envying his popularity a bit), we in the church would be better served to have taken him under wing and introduced him to baptism in the Holy Ghost, and the God of prophecy, who wrote every page of the bible.
Then perhaps we could demonstrate to him that with Jesus living inside of him, he'll know next time when to sort of fold, and when to stand up.
What do I know, but I'm thinking that with our right to speak up as Christians, there always comes opposition, as there was for Jefferson Bethke. So best to get used to it. Best to get used to it because in these strange days, it seems to increase both within the church, and outside it too.
Would that the young Jefferson Bethke, and all the Lord's people become prophets (Numbers 11,29), and stay strong unto the day Jesus comes back.
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...