Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coming Out From vs. Going Into the World

Sometimes Christians are presented with opportunities to be a witness for the Lord in unconventional places. One of them might be a secular television program. Back in 1969, Billy Graham appeared on “Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In”, a show that often featured humor with sexual innuendos. Billy issued a statement in response to inquiries from concerned Christians by pointing out, “Jesus moved among the publicans and sinners.”

Last year Welsh minister Dave Vaughan was the runner-up on the U. K. reality show, “Big Brother.” Dave later shared with me how that opened many doors for him to reach non-believers with the gospel.

Then this past week, it was announced Pastor Ted Haggard would appear with actor Gary Busey on the reality show “Celebrity Wife Swap.” When I first heard about this, I was a bit stunned. The dictionary defines wife swapping as “the practice within a group of married couples of exchanging sexual partners on a casual basis.” Some Christians could easily presuppose Ted will be committing adultery. (It’s also worth noting that Gary Busey’s “wife” is actually his girlfriend Steffanie Sampson with whom he fathered a son.)

Since Ted is one of my Facebook friends, I posted a comment of his Wall requesting an explanation. Congregation members responded with assurances that Ted’s TV appearance is for godly purposes and no illicit sexual activity will occur. One man wrote, “Pastor Ted and Gayle [his wife] will be showing Americans what it's like to be a restored Christian and to be able to come back with God's blessings.”

Some Christians might argue that we are to come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). But the next part of that verse says, “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” We are to separate ourselves from sin but not from sinners. Jesus commanded us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15)…not stay inside our churches. 

Jesus also said in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.  Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in case a “golden opportunity” turns out to be a set up to place Christians in compromising situations. When that happens, God will make the way of escape” out of every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Even if you don’t agree with their decision, let’s pray that Ted and Gayle Haggard’s appearance on “Celebrity Wife Swap” will truly result in them being a witness to people who otherwise might not darken the door of a church.

“When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” - 1 Corinthians 9:22 (NLT)

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