Friday, September 04, 2009

Believers and Unbelievers Together

Aaron Gardner writes about his experience of being associated with atheists at the Creation Museum, and the way that he perceived the interaction of believers with him.

There have rarely been times in my life that I have been ashamed of people that I call “brothers and sisters in Christ.”  This was one of them.  To be judged by people that share my beliefs because of the name tag I wore was appalling.

One of the problems with Christianity is the club mentality. “We” are “in” and “they” are “out.”

And “they” notice it very easily. “We” don’t.

“We” have all kinds of names for it. We call it “separation,” “protection,” “caution,” “love for God,” etc.

“They” call it “snobbery” and “typical.”

Then “we” go on about our lives and “they” go on about their lives.

And “we” and “they” both think everything is okay.

It’s not.

“We” must learn how to interact with “them” because that is what Jesus did.

“We” must learn how to treat “them” with respect and dignity because because that is how we will share the good news of hope in Jesus alone.



Rev. Mark Ward said...

Great comments, Larry. But, we must also be Biblical as it comes to separation. And the Biblical response is very simple: if "they" (the lost) cause "us" (the Christian) to act in any way contrary to the cause of Christ, then is is "our" responsibility to not let "them" pull us down. That, my friend, is where separation fits beautifully in the Christian walk.

But if "they" (the unsaved) are searching, then "we" (the Christian) have a duty to be salt and light in a dying world. Yes, we should be door-knocking. Yes, we should be soul-winning. Yes, we should be a light in our community. But the line is drawn in the sand when we allow the lost world to have such an influence on us that it causes us to violate scriptural principles.

Let's be careful that we don't always accuse those of us who do stand for some measure of separation as 'snobbish' and/or 'unfriendly'.

Just some thoughts-

Larry said...

I think we should be absolutely biblical when it comes to separation. We should not let them pull us down. But as we are growing in grace and faith, that should become less of an issue.

I don't think standing for some measure of separation is snobbish or unfriendly. I think snobbery and unfriendliness is snobbish and unfriendly.

I do think the example of Jesus in his interaction with sinners is something we could take to heart as fundamentalists. Most of us would never have to face the accusations that Jesus did. And we should wonder why. To quote one of my professors (who was speaking about another topic), I think some are trying to be more Christian than Christ.

I will write more on this later. This article I read sparked me to write some long standing thoughts about how believers and unbelievers interact.

Thanks, Mark for reading and responding.

Don Johnson said...

Larry, are you just taking this guy's word for it that things happened as he said they did? Have you talked to the Creation Museum for their point of view? I agree that we shouldn't be snobs, etc, but if I ran a Christian facility and received heads up notice that an avowedly anti-Christian group wished to show up, I would be a bit on my guard as well. The fellow who wrote the article talks about "hateful looks", etc. How does he know what was going on in the heart?


Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Larry said...

I didn't check, Don, because it isn't important for my point. My point is that we need to be more careful about how we act towards unbelievers, whether in a Creation Museum or in a neighborhood or work or wherever else.

Many believers have no clue how to act around unbelievers. And we do it out of principle often, but it is bad principle in many cases.

We do it when they come into church ... with earrings or noserings or lip rings or eyebrow rings ... or tattoos ... or "strange" clothes. We say the right things, but we communicate something else by how we act.

And I know it because I have witnessed it and talked to people affected by it.

As for what was going on in the heart, he probably doesn't know, but he didn't comment on that. He commented on the look he perceived. I don't know what his intent by saying that was, but I clearly denoted this in my first paragraph by speaking of the way that he "perceived" things.

Mark Ward said...


One last thing - I think everything you have said is right on the money! I appreciate your concern for the lost. As we continue on in this world, we will be forced to confront people with nose rings (we have some ladies showing up at our church with nose rings), people with tattoos, and all kinds of 'baggage'. How are we to deal with them? I think the first place is to do exactly what you said. We cannot turn our nose up toward them. If we do, where will they go? Sadly, many are ending up in new-evangelical, contemporary churches that we would NEVER support. Fundamentalism has crippled itself because we're too concerned with what someone looks like on the outside. As one preacher told me - let God clean 'em up on the inside and then they will clean up on the inside. Just some thoughts to share.

But, I still stand by what I said earlier. We, as believers, need to be extra careful that we don't follow what the culture is doing around us. Many time, we can become worldly in our dress and mannerisms - all because we allow a carnal Christian or an unsaved person influence us. This is where we need to apply Biblical separation.

You know, I've pastored two churches. I've had funny people walk inside the door to hear my preach. I've had lesbians, homosexuals, tattooed people, athiests, etc. I try to just preach the gospel and let the chips fall where they will. If they turn from their lifestyles - God will always bless.

I'm currently discipling a drug addict (that has been clean for 6 months). He's doing great - been saved, etc. But, there is still some baggage we're dealing with each week. At least he knows he's welcomed at our church. That, my friend, goes a long way with someone!

Keep up the good work!

Don Johnson said...

Oh, come on, Larry. You are joining in with the someone who is making statements about the Creation Museum folks that would be slanderous if untrue. And you won't investigate? Just to make a point?

It would be one thing if you described the situation in a way that would not identify anyone in order to make your point. But it is quite another to make such a point based on 'facts' that may or may not be true and thus besmirch someone by name who may not be guilty of the charges made.

It isn't right.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Larry said...


I am fairly well familiar with the point I am making. It has nothing to do with "Creation Museum folks." I don't need to investigate because 1) I don't have the resources and 2) I don't need to for the point of this article. The Creation Museum was mentioned in the article by someone else, not by me.

I specifically noted my lack of knowledge by 1) citing someone else and 2) not even citing his own statement but talking about what he "perceived." (He didn't use those words.)

I went on to make a general point drawn from the specific instance that allegedly happened. If it didn't happen, the point is still true.

Don, you have an unfortunate habit it seems of defending the wrong things and jumping on the wrong things. This particular instance is another example of that.

Don Johnson said...

Well, Larry, all I can say is that I hope no one treats you the way you have treated these brothers.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Larry said...

How have I treated these brothers? I didn't even comment on these brothers. I commented on the perception of one brother (not necessarily the reality), and twice now I have pointed that out and you have refused to accept it. My point was drawn from his perception of how he was treated combined with my own observations.

I don't know how to make it any clearer that I am drawing my comments from one man's perception. You missed it twice, so perhaps I should use a different word. Feel free to suggest one that will help you to understand I am talking about how he perceived his reception.

Don, read the post for the point it makes. On your blog, you are welcome to make up your own points (as you did with Bauder, which makes your complaint here very ironic).

In the meantime, it should be obvious to anyone who actually reads here that I started with one man's perception of an event, and drew some comments from the perception.

If you wish, please comment on my point. If you have a complaint about the supposed accusations against the people at the creation museum, feel free to direct those comments to someone else.

Larry said...


Here you can read the response from the folks at the Creation Museum and the organizer of the visit.

As I said, the reason I didn't pursue a response from them was 1) resources and 2) it was unnecessary. My point was about something else ... namely, how we as believer act towards unbelievers in any situation. It really had nothing to do with the Creation Museum per se, and I did not attribute any accuracy to the perspective of the writer in the original article, as you can tell by my use of the word "perceived."