by Scott McCown
The reporter stood speaking to the camera as smoke and ash billowed from the building in the neighborhood behind him. “Bombing continued today in Lebanon with missiles striking this Christian neighborhood known for its bars and nightclubs.”
Read that again taking special note of the following, “. . . this Christian neighborhood known for its bars and nightclubs.”
What is our reaction; our first thoughts? Are we angry at the reporter? Are we angry at the community? Are we angry at the bombings? Do the implications concern us? I’ll answer first.
We read and watch stories of violence in Lebanon between world religions, in Iraq between factions of Islam, and many other nations and regions of our world. Such sectarian violence that leads to shootings and bombings is a bane of the world we live in.
My first thoughts to the reference to the “Christian neighborhood” were negative. I jumped to the conclusion that the reporter intentionally used the phrase “Christian neighborhood” in association with “bars and nightclubs” as a negative reference. Then, I decided that he must be comparing/contrasting the religious culture of that community with the surrounding Muslim and Jewish communities. I realized his remark was likely innocent having only the intention to bring the conflict home to the “Christian nation” we live in.
I became angry that a “Christian” community would allow such places in their neighborhood. I thought of how sad a situation for these “Christians” who apparently missed Paul’s statement in Ephesians 5:18-19 to be filled with the Spirit and not with wine.
Then I realized my anger was more inward. The statement made by the reporter was convicting me. I, like those in the Lebanese community, tolerate sinfulness around me. I claim to be a part of a Christian nation and a Christian community, yet this nation and our community promotes open sin in many different ways – ways that other religious groups would not tolerate.
Finally, I thought of Jesus’ statement of God’s mission in John 3:16-17. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. I thought of the accusations leveled at Him that he was a “friend to publicans and sinners . . . a winebibber and a glutton” (Luke 7:34). Jesus received these accusations because He reached out to the undesirables and sinners of his day. Maybe that is why there is a “Christian neighborhood” in this area of Lebanon. Maybe a group of Christians is located in that neighborhood known for its bars and nightclubs in order that they might reach out to the lost and dying. Hmmmm?!
What are you thinking?