Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God

A few years back I came across a book that I had to buy just because of the title: Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God (Word Publishing, 1997).

The book was written by Tony Campolo. An ordained Baptist minister affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA, Campolo is also Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in St Davids, Pennsylvania, a prolific writer, and a powerful speaker with a lively sense of humor and a faith grounded in scripture and tradition.

Besides the cool book title, the chapter titles are great, like these:

  • How to Exhibit a Christian Lifestyle without Moving into a Commune
  • How to Protect Yourself from Technology without Becoming Amish
  • How to Get Ready to Die without Pretending That It's No Problem
  • How to Talk about Prayer without Saying Things That Make God Look Bad
  • How to Be a Theologian without Being an Intellectual Snob
  • How to Be an Environmentalist without Becoming a Tree-Hugger
  • How to Be Sexually Attractive without Being Obscene
  • How to Hold Your Family Together in a World That’s Falling Apart

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Over the years all of us have said and done things that surely must have embarrassed God. Sometimes we have been pompous. Sometimes we have said things about God that, undoubtedly, have made God shudder. Which of us can deny that, even as we are trying to follow Jesus, we sometimes behave in ways which must make God and Christianity seem ridiculous to those outside the faith.

There is a story of a Baptist preacher who once found himself seated on a train next to Mahatma Gandhi. As they traveled together, the preacher did his best to tell Gandhi about the gospel and to win him over to Christianity. As the trip came to a close, the preacher asked Gandhi if we was ready to accept Jesus as his Savior.

“Jesus!” exclaimed Gandhi with a pretended look of surprise. “I didn’t realize you were talking about Jesus. I thought you were talking about some successful oil tycoon from Texas.”

In reality there are times when each of us makes God seem ridiculous. We all do thing that make being a Christian seem like the most idiotic thing in the world. And the bad news is that we are likely to go on doing them for the rest of our lives. … But God is gracious and in that graciousness does not condemn us for our foolishness.

What an important reminder that it’s not just the creeds, but also our deeds, that convey the core truths of the Gospel!

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