This morning I was walking on the trail at a local park. I had my cell phone with me and my earphones in, absorbed in my music and the natural scene. During my walk, a runner came toward me on the opposite side of the trail. He said, “Here you go,” handed me a business card and kept running.
At least it looked like a business card. It was actually a gospel message about “the most important day of your life.” It apparently wasn’t my graduation day, my wedding day (which, admittedly was not my finest hour) or the day my children (who do not exist) were born. But instead it will be Judgment Day.
Of course, this sort of message is old hat to me as a former evangelical Christian. I am used to getting gospel tracts, knocks on the door, etc. But what struck me about this particular man was that he just handed me the card, said, “Here you go,” and left.
What if I wanted to talk to him about what was written on the card? What if I were hurting and needed help — or even prayer? What if I had deep philosophical questions about faith?
Nope. The only contact information was a website: Redeemed Scoundrels, and that tells me that I am, like everyone else, a bad person who deserves to be killed in a tsunami. I wish I were making this up, but you can see for yourself.
Apparently this fellow got it into his head that Jesus wanted him to spread the good news not by healing the sick, feeding the poor or even having real conversations with people but instead by doing guerilla marketing as if he were trying to create a buzz for a new smart phone model at a tech convention or hand out coupons for the latest sandwich at McDonald’s.
Of course, if you’ve read any of my other blog entries, you will know that I am incredulous toward all religions, but this kind capitalist Christianity — uniquely American, I might add — is particularly offensive to me. It insults the intelligence of the audience, and it reinforces the idea that these people care more about increasing their numbers than actually meeting people’s needs. It’s as if Jesus hired an advertising agency.
When asking, “What would Jesus do?” I hope the answer is not, “run by a stranger and hand them a gospel message printed on a business card.”