kerravonsen: from "The Passion", Christ's head with crown of thorns: "Love" (Christ)
[personal profile] kerravonsen posting in [community profile] bearing_witness
"The Generous Mr. Lovewell" by MercyMe is a great album. It makes me want to write fic about The Generous Mr. Lovewell, who performs random acts of kindness and then vanishes as mysteriously as he appears, leaving people saying "Who was that man with the bowler hat and the balloon?"

Only I'm now wondering if he has an evil twin, The Dutiful Mr. Meantwell.

The last two lines of the last song on the album niggled at me:

But if all that we do is absent of Jesus
Then this so-called love is completely in vain.


Is it?
What did they mean by that?

Then I found http://mrlovewell.com/ and I became uneasy. And this article confirmed my unease.

Mr. Meantwell was stepping up to the podium.

The idea of the Mr. Lovewell website, is, apparently, for people to do good deeds and give out Lovewell business cards and/or a bible verse while they're doing the good deed.

But if all that we do is absent of preaching
Then this so-called love is completely in vain.


There are so many things wrong with that idea, that I'm finding it hard to articulate them. So I'll step back a little.

For decades, Christians have been doing a very good job... at inoculating people against Christianity. And, yes, a lot of it has to do with a lack of love, and MercyMe are correct in putting their finger on that. We've had loudmouthed Christians preaching hate against sinners, preaching condemnation rather than repentance, full of self-righteousness and judgement. We've also had the classic Evangelical mode of "witnessing", which basically means preaching at people out of duty (and guilt), and it shows. From the outside, there is no love in it, just increasing your score in the "saving souls" game. People are not stupid. They do notice what isn't said, and they aren't going to buy an impersonal religious message. And a religious message with a good deed attached is still a religious message, and it gives the good deed suspect motives. "You aren't doing this because you care about me; to you I'm not a person, I'm just a notch in your bible."

Now, I'm not saying that doing good deeds in the name of Christ is always destined to backfire - there are numerous examples of organizations that do that, such as the Salvos, and LINC (Love In the Name of Christ) but the difference with those is that they do their good deeds with no conditions, not even the condition that "I've done this good deed so you have to sit and listen to me preach now."

And that's what the Lovewell site does - it's conditional love, love with preaching.

I'm not saying that preaching is always a waste of time, either. If one has a calling and a gift of evangelism, it can be wonderfully powerful. But most Christians don't have such a gift. For the rest of us, we are called to bear witness... and that doesn't mean shouting at people, it means answering questions when we're asked. And living a life such that people will want to ask those questions and believe you when you answer them.

But it isn't only the preaching aspect of the thing that bothers me.

Then this so-called love is completely in vain.

No. Just no.

Love can never ever be in vain.

Why do they say that God is Love? What did Jesus say about the Good Samaritan? Love is patient and kind and bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. Love never ends.

Love can never ever be in vain, because love is not a means to an end, it is an end in itself. Love is its own justification.
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