In our little town, a number of white crosses have appeared in several front yards. At first I thought it was a rash of pet deaths, but I soon learned that it was the effort of our local Methodist Church. A sweet effort for some reason I wasn't really clear about. To proclaim the household's (presumably Protestant, since it's not a crucifix) Christian identity? To be a safe haven for wandering Christians? A testimony of faith?
Today I learned that it was in response to this story, about an incident in Frankenmuth, Michigan a couple of years ago. Of course, in the version told to the ministerial fellowship, the ACLU got dragged in. (Doesn't it always, in these cases?) Le sigh. I checked it out on Snopes, and was gratified that at least the minister didn't play up the complainer's supposed "atheism." But as a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I am always so annoyed when they become the bogeyman for all the "persecution" Christians face.
Later, it made me wonder: what happened to the man in the story? No doubt he was a pot-stirrer, and it sounds as though he might have been a newcomer to town. Perhaps he was not the most sympathetic character. But as much as the Christians in this town claimed "victory," I wonder how this man felt ministered to by his Christian friends and neighbors. Did he learn about the love of Jesus from all those crosses? Did he experience the grace of God from their overwhelming opposition to his (admittedly rather petty) complaints?
Or was he confirmed in a belief that Christians tend to lord it over non-Christians and Christians who don't share their views of church-state separation? Was he treated as an outcast, a collaborator with the enemy, and unclean?
Jesus sure ate a lot of meals with people whom the "majority" looked down upon or disdained. I may be preaching to the choir here, but I pray that when we are bold to proclaim the Gospel, we are focused on proclamation that opens hearts and minds to Jesus, not on pummeling others to get our own way.