31 July 2014

'Stripping Down' the Barriers of Evangelism?

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Ladies, do you 'hang out' in the men's public restroom? Men, how about you? Do you frequent the ladies' room? No? Why not? Could it be because you do not belong there?

Christianity Today (CT) regularly features a column entitled 'Three Views', wherein three influential voices within professing Christendom offer their opinion regarding CT's latest controversial issue. The question most recently posited was: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club? It quickly becomes clear in reading the article that the ultimate question is: Is it okay for professing Christians to 'hang out' in a strip club?

Two of the three voices, Dawn Herzog Jewell and Mike Foster, answered with a resounding 'yes' while Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition took the negative stance. Carter makes some salient points in his brief argument:
It's hard for me to believe there are Christians who think Jesus would hang out in a strip club. Are we talking about the Jesus who had a high opinion of women and a low view of lust? Hanging out at a strip club doesn't sound like something he would do.

But since the question is being asked, I assume there are people who think he would. I have to assume they think that since Jesus ate with sinners, he'd have no problem eating at a buffet next to a stripper pole.

Jesus did sit and eat with sinners (Mark 2:16–17). In Luke 15, we again find the oft-quoted claim made by the Pharisees: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." What is often left out is the lengthy reply Jesus gave. After hearing their charges, Jesus tells three parables—about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a prodigal son. . . But there is no evidence that Jesus ever ate with sinners or even spent significant time "hanging out" with them without calling them to turn from their sin. . . .

I wonder if what many people want to know is not whether Jesus would hang out at a strip club, but whether he'd have an issue if they hung out there. For those people, I'd recommend meditating on the words of Matthew 5:28–29.

(Source)
It seems that Carter may have hit at the crux of the issue when he queried, "I wonder if what many people want to know is not whether Jesus would hang out at a strip club, but whether he'd have an issue if they hung out there."

Man does, after all, love any righteous-sounding excuse for his sin. "I'm watching this [smutty] television show so that I can converse with my coworkers at lunch and explain to them why it is bad." Really? Would you also drink this rat poison so they can see how detrimental it is?

One cannot help but wonder if these same people who argue that they can—and should—frequent strip clubs and bars and casinos for 'evangelism' would be just as eager to attend a meeting of today's equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan? Or to crawl into an underground bunker with members of Hamas? After all, these are sinners, too, are they not? Christians do not belong at these places any more than they belong in a strip club, but should we not also "meet these people where they are" to evangelize? Ah, but such groups are not nearly as enticing to the flesh.

In hearing such arguments as these, another question inevitably comes to mind. To those who say that yes, Jesus would go to the strip club to evangelize and He would go often, so we, too, should feel free to frequent such venues, this blogger would like to ask: You do realize that the people you are trying to reach go other places, too, don't you? Even those who are employed as strippers must go to the grocery store or the mall or even Starbucks. The mission field does not always have to be 'radical'. Sometimes it is simply ordinary, practical, and expected.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

(John 4:7–26)
The verses in Scripture that call for an active pursuit of holiness on the part of the Christian (by the enablement of the Holy Spirit, of course), are numerous.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Pet 1:14–16)
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1–2)
Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. (Eph 5:7–12)
Friendship evangelism that finds its meeting place in a den of sin hardly seems congruent with these calls. How do we best love those who are ensnared and in bondage to such blatant sin? Not by lending credence to their sin by frequenting their favorite place of darkness, but by boldly calling them to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ, His work and His atoning death for salvation. Jesus died for sinners and He will not cast away those who come to him in repentance and faith (John 6:37).

The Christian must be faithful to proclaim the gospel message with clarity, but must never compromise himself, his own pursuit of righteousness, or the walk of a weaker brother in the process. The gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone frees from sin, it does not wink at it. May no Christian ever abuse this great gospel of grace in an effort to walk that dangerous line, daring his wicked heart not to stumble.

Further Reading
Nurturing Perversion
Actively Seeking Holiness
Taking 'Jesus' for a Test Drive

5 comments:

  1. Nice! I am not sure how such people would claim that going into a strip club was for the glory of God.

    Besides, many of us horribly wretched sinners were not saved by someone coming to our sinful haunts but I can think of plenty of times that I was leaving those places where God spoke Truth to me. Once my car broke down in the middle of the night & a guy going home from the night shift gave us a ride to his house so his mother could drive us home... because that was more appropriate since we were girls and we lived so far away (at the time I thought that was weird). She in turn shared the Gospel. This woman did not go hunt me down at the place where I partied, God sent me to her.

    I was not saved at that time but I respected what she said and now I look back and see God working. But, if she had been where I had been trying to tell me that, I would have seen her as foolish and a hypocrite. She showed herself to be sincere, respectable, and loving. Does that mean we should just sit around and wait for God to bring people to us? No, but we can keep our eyes open as we live quiet, respectable lives.

    Elevating God's glory accomplishes more in our lives and in others.

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  2. Is it okay for Christians to "hang out" in a strip joint? Oh I dunno since most strip clubs and the dancers are controlled by organized crime I guess you could ask, ” Is it okay to support your local gangster?” I can't believe this is even an issue for debate. It doesn’t surprise me that two of the three "influential voices" in professing Christianity think it’s okay. The American church is permeated with unregenerate “believers” and they are driving the agenda. Talk of being radical, relevant and adapting to the culture is nothing more than a seducing lie; it encouraged those who claim the name of Christ to wallow in carnality. As the scripture says “It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

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  3. Sigh..........................................

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  4. Perhaps it is time to recognise that "Christianity" Today is not a joint we should hang out in much, either. If there is so little discernment and appreciation for holiness that this is considered worth debating....

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  5. Jesus was not mocked as the "friend of sinners" because he joined sinners in their sin, but because there were so many sinners responding to his call, "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus was not a friend of prostitutes because he went into their brothels, but because prostitutes came to him in repentance and faith. The Pharisees simply could not appreciate that the Messiah would associate with sinners at all, no matter how righteous they were by their faith in Jesus. Jesus was clear that these "sinners" were with him because they were entering the kingdom of heaven, not because he was visiting their venues of sinful activity (Matthew 21:28-32).

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