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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reflections On a Chicken Sandwich

This is a great article written by my friend, Howard Blount...

So today marks a year since thousands of Christians waited in line for hours in fast food chicken sandwich outlets across the nation to support the COO's First Amendment right to freedom of speech. But this show of support did not feel loving, compassionate, or tenderhearted as one might expect from Followers of Jesus. It smacked more of "mob rule," not unlike that of historical inquisitions, witch hunts, and lynchings. I remember sitting at my computer that day in shock and awe, as I watched the Body of Christ show its true colors.

I was incredulous.

Painful pictures and posts from people I loved, people I thought were my friends, family members, and church leaders rolled across my screen.

"I waited in line for four hours!"

"Cars were lined up around the block . . . ."

"I finally got mine!"

I do not believe any Christians who participated in this shameful event paused for even a moment to ask themselves if Jesus would have waited in that line, or held up a bag of fast food in triumph. WWJD was thrown out the window. Not that we all don't fail to show love in some regard on a daily basis. But this was different. This demonstration was corporate, offensive, and intentional.

And what was the effect of this militant public display? Did any marginalized person feel God's love? Was anyone drawn closer to Jesus? Were the church altars packed the following Sunday with repentant sinners?

I think not . . . .

But I do believe some good—other than record-breaking sales for a fast food chain—was accomplished that day. In addition to its status as an infamous day in Church history, August 1, 2012, was an effective polarizer. Although there will always be those who stand by in apathetic silence, most Christians were put in a position where they were forced to choose sides. Unfortunately for most, the side of love did not win the day. My prayer, however, is that in the past year many Christians who demonstrated un-Christlike behavior that day have "considered their ways" and perhaps even repented of their actions.

The commands of Jesus are two-fold and simple: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. If waiting in line does not show love, then it's time to step out!

I like the way the Phillips translation of the Apostle Paul's words in Romans 2: 1-4 puts it:

"Now if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins. God’s judgment, we know, is utterly impartial in its action against such evil-doers. What makes you think that you who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God? Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God’s GENEROSITY and patient MERCY towards you as weakness on his part? Don’t you realize that God’s KINDNESS is meant to lead you to repentance?"

So, should Christians ever defend the First Amendment right to freedom of speech? Absolutely! I am exercising that right even now, as I write this note. But before we take action, we should examine the content of the spoken words we endorse. Are they words that build up, or words that tear down? We must never abuse our freedom by condoning speech that pronounces judgment upon a sister or brother, nor should we ever support hate speech directed at others, even when we disagree.

Jesus said it BEST, "By this EVERYONE will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE one another . . . .”