Recently, Just Wallpaper published an open letter to those who have been burned by churches. I’ve either heard or seen similar apologies other places, and I just can’t decide how I feel about them.
This apology is certainly well-communicated, poignant and heartfelt, but will anyone read an apology letter on someone’s blog and suddenly be ready to join a church? It’s my hope that this apology letter won’t stay on a blog, but it will become real, honest and unstated–manifesting itself in life change and real relationships far more than blog posts.
I’m not saying this blogger is guilty of any or all of these. But I think before we do what seems hip and loving, we should ask ourselves a few questions:
Who reads this stuff anyway?
Are all of these blog readers Christians? It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of in-talking amongst believers about all that we want to do or should do, without actually doing anything. I’ve definitely fallen into this trap myself. Hopefully the idea is to share this with some non-Christian friends. Even better, the author might have already shared it with some of his secular friends, and he’s just posting it for encouragement. Teaching is all right, but doing is what matters.
It seems like in each iteration of apology letter, public statement of regret, etc. that is aimed at non-Christians, there’s a subtle hint of, “See, I cuss! You don’t have to stop swearing to be a Christian.” Maybe that’s the case, but Ed Young would say you’re trying to be cool.
Is this publicly skewering brothers and sisters in Christ to gain street-cred with secular peers?
This is the big one, and I think it comes in lots of forms. The search for a new vocabulary is one that I wrote about recently. Since Blue Like Jazz debuted, apology booth included, it seems like Christians have been apologizing so much that it gives the appearance of throwing others under the bus. I just don’t think this is in line with Christ’s exhortation that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35, NASB)”
As the marketers of the church, it’s our call to be in the world and let the light of Christ shine. When we live a life of fullness and love, we replace misconceptions and bad experiences of those around us with a new definition of Christianity. And that will do far more than an open apology letter ever will.