So, remember when I was all, “Hey guys, let's talk through some of this Short-term missions junk!” and then, like 4 minutes later, I lost interest?.. Yeah... Well, I was thinking that maybe we oughta go ahead and pick up where we left off. Sorry if you're over it. But I really think this is a conversation worth having.... and I think that what we were gonna hash out today is WAY bigger than just missions and really, really worth discussing. Ok? So here we go, again....again.
A few weeks back when I suggested that in some cases the church may be doing more harm than good when it comes to short term missions, a whole bunch of people got really pissed and YELLED this:
“If any good comes of it, even if it’s just for one person, then it’s all good!”
Ok. Maybe they didn't yell, exactly....but some of them were pretty emphatic.
So I'm just gonna come right out and say this in response, even though it might make some of you mad: I emphatically disagree with that sentiment.
A great many atrocities have occurred under the guise of “doing good” in the name of Jesus ...the Crusades come to mind. Not sure, but I don't think God was pleased by all that burning and beheading on His behalf, and yet, some may have earnestly come to Faith at the tip of a sword. But you don't hear anyone saying, “Well, the Crusades did some good, so let's go do that again.” (And if you do hang out with someone who is saying stuff like that, then you should find new friends. Like, immediately.)
Or - in the tradition of the extreme, over-the-top examples that we're used to around here – How about the pedophile priest? It's entirely likely that over the course of his career he will do some good, that at least one good thing will come from his time shepherding others toward Jesus.... But we're not about to put the value of the old lady he leads to Christ above the horrors he commits against children. That would be ridiculous. It would be criminal. In fact, he could lead a thousand people to Faith, but if we find out that he has molested just one child, we're gonna demand that somebody get his creepy ass out from behind the pulpit.
And what about the lazy long-term missionary who happily takes the churches money in the name of ministry but spends his days surfing and his nights smoking pot... Yeesh! Are we pleased to keep supporting him as long as just “one good thing” comes out of his years in the field?
I'm sorry, I know this is going to sound kinda harsh... but isn't the “just one good thing” defense of our actions kind of a ridiculous standard by which to decide the value of what we're doing in the world? Isn't it kind of crazy to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done without ever considering the actual outcome of what we've invested in?
My point is that it's not unreasonable to set standards, to ask questions, and to come to conclusions about what we're doing. In fact, we do that all the time.
We expect our doctors to “First, do no harm.”
We expect our police to “Protect and Serve.”
We expect our Church to.... um.... “Do at least some good, hopefully, but really, who can say....”
So, if you're a doctor and you do harm, we'll take away your license. And if you're a cop who fails to protect, we will riot in the streets against your actions. But, apparently, if you're a Christian with “good intentions”, you can do whatever you want because, if just one good thing comes from it, it's all good. Seriously?!
We have given ourselves a free pass to do whatever we want, however we want, whenever and wherever we want with absolutely zero accountability, because we're Christian. I mean, ultimately, who are we to judge whether or not “some good” has actually taken place? So why bother evaluating ourselves at all... *shrugs*
Look. I'm not asking anyone to see into the future, or peer into somebody's heart looking for evidence of Jesus. I'm merely suggesting that we not heap the desires of our own hearts onto the other inhabitants of this planet without considering the consequences - both good and bad. I'm suggesting that before we run into a community with Bible's blazing, we consider how we are perceived, and how our (even very well-intentioned) gifts will be received.
I'm suggesting that we have a responsibility, as the followers and proclaimers of Jesus, to, first do no harm, to protect as we serve, and to bring the Good News in really good ways. Oh, and while we're at it, let's ditch the corny platitudes – they're really not helping us.
And remember? I am seriously PRO short-term missions. Me? All for short-term teams! I just want to see more conscious thought go toward how the Church is engaging with the world, that's all.
.... ..... ....
Have you heard the "any good = all good" philosophy applied to other areas of Church conduct/spending/community interaction? If so, are you cool with that?
Is "any good" no matter how small (or completely unseen) enough by which to measure the value against the cost of the things we do?