“Blasphemy Day” at the University of Northern Iowa

uni panthersI have received a plethora, a glut, an excess, an overabundance, a superabundance, a surplus, a superfluity, a surfeit, a mass, or might I say, a swath of emails, facebooks, tweets, and the like on “Blasphemy Day” at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). I also understand that Christians may desire to retreat from the world, and separate from all that is ungodly. Or to lash out in fear, anger, or disgust at unbelievers for having such a day.  But that is not what we are called to from the Scriptures.  And it is the Scriptures that are to captivate our minds and our actions as believers.

If we stay retreated from the world in our own “havens” or our own Christian cloisters, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5, that we lose our savor and our saltiness. Our retreating from the world actually has a negative effect on unbelievers, because we cannot be salty to them if we do not have actual relationships with them. And our retreating from the world also has a negative effect on us as Christians; it damages us as believers.  In our Christian havens, when we pull ourselves out of the world, we actually begin to lose our righteousness.  This is because the righteousness that Christ has called us to is a righteousness that does justice, and loves mercy, and walks humbly with our God in relationships with others; both believers and unbelievers.  Our righteousness is a righteousness that is faithful to real relationships with unbelievers in a lost world.  We, as Christians, hurt ourselves if we are not in the world that God has called us to be in.

So, what is the response that we should have towards unbelievers on this declared “Blasphemy Day?”

First, low expectations of unbelievers. The reality is, I expect nothing less from those who do not know Jesus. And 1 Timothy 2:1 – 6; reminds me that I am to be praying for those very people who do not know Jesus – especially the ones that are persecuting Christians – like Nero was persecuting the church during the time of the apostle Paul.

1 Timothy 2:1 – 6; I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

And Jesus says, Matthew 5:10 – 12; “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Second, high expectation of believers empowered with the grace of God. “Love your enemy.” And, oh yeah, “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

And one more, 1 Corinthians 5:9 – 13; I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

We are called to have love, compassion, and concern for the very people that are created in the image of God, yet do not worship God as their Creator. They have suppressed the truth of God.  Therefore, let us be about praying for their salvation. Let us be about talking to them for their salvation. Remember: missions exists because worship doesn’t. Oh, God make us passionate for His name and His glory on the campus of UNI!

Let me leave you with a paraphrase of a saying from Francis Schaeffer: If I have one hour to talk with someone [unbeliever], I spend 55 minutes asking them questions and listening, so when I do say something, I speak what they need to hear.  I try to speak to their hearts.

May this concept grip us on this declared “Blasphemy Day.”

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One Response to ““Blasphemy Day” at the University of Northern Iowa”

  1. Thanks pastor Kevin! I think you’re right, I just laughed at the messages on the sidewalks. Christ died for us while we were still ENEMIES of God, so in essence, we as believers were no worse than anyone else. We may not have written it on sidewalks, but it was written on our hearts. Second, I think this all comes about as a result of the church not being loving enough in an active (non-reactionary) way. No one would write these things if Christians (including me) represented Christ well. We are not attacked for our theology, we are attacked for our practice.

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