They Eventually Got Over It

August 24, 2011

I once went to a house gathering where a missionary my at-the-time church was supporting was back from Africa.  He and his family were involved in evangelizing to unreached people groups – meaning the people in the deepest parts of nowhere.  I was able to listen to his story and a watch a video of how these African natives who had barely had any contact with the modern world came to know Jesus.  It was a really cool story.

But then it got a little weird.

At the end of the video, we saw pretty much the entire tribe dancing and elated to have accepted Jesus as their savior.  The missionary then made this informal comment, “They were all really happy but then one of the natives asked about their ancestors.  When they were told they were in hell the tribe when into fierce mourning…but they eventually got over it (verbatim).”

Praise God, the good news of Jesus brings mourning!

This is one of those moments where I wish I had a time machine just so I could go back and scream “WTF?” (sorry it was the only word to convey what I’m feeling) to everyone that was in that house, including myself.  I look back on that story and am amazed that everyone accepted this little piece of horrid theology without even thinking twice.  What caused me to sit there and be so…beefheaded?

I know that answer now and I suspect that many Christians are in this rut.  We Christians have a long legacy of fear.  For many of us, we extract our beliefs about God from whatever denomination we were born into and somewhere along the line we get convinced that we got those beliefs plain and simple from the Bible.  But we really didn’t.  We get them from our pastor, who got them for his pastor, etc.

Of course I’m being really polemic with this model, but nevertheless, I’m convinced that many Christians argue the Bible when they really don’t know what’s in it.  They’re not arguing the Bible, they’re arguing their church tradition.  And whenever tough questions pop up, instead of wrestling with them, they tune them out because they’ve been trained that asking tough questions somehow indicates a lack of faith.

Having the “rebellious audacity” to ask tough questions is the thing that strengthened my faith and relationship with Jesus.  “Would God really send people to eternal hell who had no freakin’ idea who he was?” “Why was I lucky enough to be born into a Christian family while others are born in places that will never hear about Christ?”  “Can I honestly and whole-heartedly worship and give my life to a God who works under such a model?”  These sorts of questions should be asked to ourselves and to God.  God isn’t afraid of our questions.

As for the poor natives who had to “get over the gospel”, maybe God will send a missionary to go there and learn the language and tell the people, “Yes, Jesus is real and more amazing than you can ever fathom…but as far as your ancestors are concerned, don’t believe that other white guy, he’s a little beefheaded.”


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