Curiosity. Confusion. Vague guilt. Defensiveness. Legitimate questions. This was something close to the string of emotions that charged through me as I read the email forward that was printed off and tucked into the self-addressed, stamped envelope we recently received back from a completely anonymous friend.
No return address. No signature.
The gist of the forward? “The postage stamps you used are Muslim, and if you are truly a Christian, they shouldn’t be.”
I was then entreated by the forward to make a stand by passing this message on to other Christians who may, knowingly or otherwise, endorse the Muslim holidays of Eid by using such stamps.
At Cru’s national staff conference last month, it was refreshing to be reminded by those both inside and outside of Cru of our calling to keep the “sharp edge” of the truth at the center of our gospel message. As teacher Allistair Begg illustrated from book of Jude, the church’s biggest threat has historically been due to the theologically vague accommodations of its insiders rather than external pressure.
Skeptical as I am that postal purity is our answer, I sense a common ground with our stand-making friends: an unsettling sense that this Jesus we presume to follow requires that we press through the conveniently shallow waters of postmodern universalism to a place where our convictions may no longer be popular.
Yes, this is the stomach-knot that we believers are all too familiar with. The conference discussions were riddled this very tension: How do we respond truthfully and lovingly to an sinful world which gives us hot-button questions with no clear answers?
Under the weight of confusion, vague guilt or unanswerable questions, I end up reconsidering Jesus. How would he vote? What bumper stickers would he display? How would he respond to an invitation to a gay friend’s wedding? Is he asking me to make a stand?
It is clear that he requires courage. But what kind? What if Jesus had shown up to the Samaritan well of John chapter 4 sporting a bold t-shirt with a clever tagline about marital fidelity or a pithy political statement about worshipping at the temple? Would this have aided his cause of inviting a sinner (and her whole village) into abundant life with the Messiah?
Maybe the risks he requires are relational risks, ones that open up doors into more dicey conversations, hard questions, and possible rejection. If so, isn’t an anonymous forwarded letter a too-easy short cut out of a personal conversation in which questions might be asked, in which we might have to truly rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us through differing opinions into true wisdom?
As we considered God’s call on us to be courageous and engage, it seemed clear to us that we needed to be willing to take a relational risk and address the note in hope of seeking understanding. (If it was you, please, please call us! We really do want to clear things up!)
I write this not because I am certain not of all the answers but that we need your prayers. Pray that even in our sound-bite culture, we will respond in obedience to the Lord of all wisdom who promises to convict and teach us by His Spirit how to boldly represent Him in truth and love.
Grace & Peace,
Please pray for:
- THE NEW BABY! We’re due with little Whelpley #2 on February 7, 2014. Mommy and kiddo are healthy. Fia and Daddy are still trying to wrap their huge heads around it.
- Our likely upcoming move. We shared previously that we were trying to buy our current home, but that’s not happening now. We may have to move any time between October & March.
- Jayson is going to be traveling quite a bit this Autumn. Pray that he will be safe and that Carrie will be up for the challenge of “single-parenting” while he’s away.
- Bobby is out working a lot and renting a room from a solid older friend. Pray that he’d continue to grow in his walk with the Lord and that he’d continue to move forward in getting on his feet.