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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Contagious Christians and ...Snakes??

Our Small Group from church is studying the book Becoming a Contagious Christian. We just started last night so I can't give a whole rundown on what the book is about, but it's basically meant to be a lesson in how to share Christ with unbelievers using several different principals. One question last night was "Isn't it good enough to just live a good life" and not ever share your Christian beliefs with others? My answer is no, it's not good enough. (And I'm preaching to myself here, too!) There are lots of truly good people in the world that don't have Christ. Buddhists, for example, are known for their gentle, caring spirit and their love for mankind. What makes them different from a Christian?

One thing.

Jesus Christ.

He is the only one that can save us from our sins. No amount of goodness on our part can do that. Good people will spend eternity in hell, away from God, because they didn't believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! So it's important that followers of Christ share this with everyone they can.

So last evening, my fifteen year old son and I were eating dinner (hubby was away and oldest son was at work) and watching Animal Planet (his favorite channel!). A program about snakes was on. Let me be the first to say...I. HATE. SNAKES! There is nothing redeeming about them, in my opinion.

About halfway through the program the narrator started talking about a church in Alabama, I believe, that uses venomous snakes in their worship services. Well, I knew what was coming. I'd heard about this practice before. These people take the ONE verse--ONE sentence, actually--in Mark 16:17-18 that says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my (Jesus') name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands;..."

The pastor of this church raises dozens and dozens of venomous snakes and then brings them into the worship services. I have to admit it was pretty amazing to watch him handle those things like he was holding rubber snakes. One man from the congregation even got up and held a couple of 'em. Not one of those snakes got angry enough to bite. So, was it the Holy Spirit that protected them from being struck? I honestly don't know.

But here's my problem with this practice. It seems to me this pastor and this church (which was really tiny from what I could tell) is more focused on handling snakes than on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Now, admittedly, I haven't been to this church and only caught a glimpse of it on TV. I can't know what is going on inside their hearts. I truly don't want to be judgemental about these folks, but I can't see that using venomous snakes to prove that one has the Holy Spirit in them is really going to draw people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And that is exactly the point of the book Becoming a Contagious Christian. Our goal is to draw people to Christ, not turn them off. And believe me, there are a lot of things "Christians" do in the name of Christ that turn others away from Him!

"Contagious" isn't normally a word associated with good things. It usually means you're sick or someone else is sick. But this time I want to be contagious! My hearts desire is that everyone who comes into contact with me will know that I belong to Jesus Christ and that He is Lord of my life. As I've said in other posts, I'm NOT perfect, but Jesus is. He's the One I want people to see through my life.

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