Monday, May 24, 2010

WWJD with Chain Emails?

I occasionally get unsolicited emails from friends, relatives and coworkers who share my values when it comes to religion and politics. I appreciate and read them all, but I very rarely pass them on to anyone else. This is particularly the case with chain emails. I am sure you have received some yourself. You know, the kind that encourage you to pass it on to ten friends for a variety of good reasons, such as: making someone’s day with kind and uplifting thoughts, saving someone’s soul. keeping our country from going to hell in a handbasket or… [fill in the blank].




I recently got one such email which I enjoyed very much. The bulk of the email contained pictures of some life-size metal sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Christ. Built on a donated tract of land in Groom, Texas, about 70 miles from Amarillo, the statues are an impressive and inspiring labor of love which I hope to go and see some day. I found the same pictures and message on several blogs, such as the following (in case you would like to check it out yourself):

http://myforwards.com/item.php?id=154

The pictures are followed by some Christ exalting verbiage which reminds me a little of the One Solitary Life poem you see on Christmas cards.

  • IN CHEMISTRY, HE TURNED WATER TO WINE.
  • IN BIOLOGY, HE WAS BORN WITHOUT THE NORMAL CONCEPTION
  • IN PHYSICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW OF GRAVITY WHEN HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN;
  • IN ECONOMICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURN BY FEEDING 5000 MEN WITH TWO FISHES AND; 5 LOAVES OF BREAD;
  • IN MEDICINE, HE CURED THE SICK AND THE BLIND WITHOUT ADMINISTERING A SINGLE DOSE OF DRUGS,
  • IN HISTORY, HE IS THE BEGINNING AND THE END
  • IN GOVERNMENT, HE SAID THAT HE SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, PRINCE OF PEACE;
  • IN RELIGION, HE SAID NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH HIM;
  • SO. WHO IS HE?  HE IS JESUS!
JOIN ME AND LET'S CELEBRATE HIM; HE IS WORTHY.

Now I happen to agree with every word of the above. The only thing I would have added would be a more explicit Gospel message in keeping with the pictures that accompanied the message, namely that Jesus, the Son of God, lived a perfect sinless life but died a horrific death He did not deserve, suffering the wrath of God that sinners like you and me otherwise deserve, and rising from the dead to give us a way to forgiveness and eternal life. But everything otherwise quoted above is all true and good stuff to which I say “yes” and “amen”.

But I could have done without the guilt trip that followed these words and which ended the message in typical chain mail style:

If you believe in God and in Jesus Christ His Son, send this to all on your buddy list. If not just ignore it. If you ignore it, just remember that Jesus said “If you deny me before man, I will deny you before my Father.”

I am certainly not ashamed of the message or I otherwise would not be sharing it now. But why won’t I send it in an email? Perhaps the presentation just isn’t my style? Perhaps because I dislike chain mail messages in general and figure that most other people dislike them also, giving them a handy excuse to ignore the Gospel message contained therein?

For these reasons, I am pretty comfortable with deciding not to continue the email chain, but at the same time, I do need to be careful to examine some heart issues and other motives. I was reminded of this during a message preached last Sunday by Curt Allen, one of the pastors of my church. The message was entitled When Opposition Meets the Message and focused on the story in Acts chapter 4 where Peter and John refused to back down from preaching the Gospel message, facing down the authorities head on while knowing full well that it would likely cost them their lives.

Among Allen’s many excellent points, he raised an issue that many Christians wonder about: We see the courage of Peter and John and the other apostles. We read about the martyrs throughout history and even hear about modern day martyrs who have chosen death or imprisonment instead of denying their faith in Christ. And then we soberly wonder about our faith and we ask ourselves, “Would I have that same courage?”

Most Christians in the western world do not face such life and death choices—at least not yet. So the question for us is not whether we will have the courage to face such intense opposition, but whether we have the courage now to face some of the pathetically mild opposition we deal with in 21st century America, such as people laughing or smirking at us or otherwise hurting our feelings because we have taken our stand for Christ. Does this cause us to shrink back from sharing the Gospel?

These questions caused me to think twice about my motivations in not passing on the chain email. WWJD? WWYD?

4 comments:

Capri said...

I'm glad you didn't pass on the chain letter. They are all big manipulators, and some will even take bits of truth, use and twist them to suit their purpose, which is always to get more people touched or guilted enough into passing them along. As a Christian, I see so much pseudo-religious chain letters getting passed around, making a mockery of Christianity itself, trivializing it to spam messages, and putting Christianity down on the level with hoaxes and spam, and that really offends me. Adding to this is the backlash from anti-Christians who love to get their haw-haws at the expense of chain-addicted Christians, and use it as an excuse to not so much debunk chain letters (which is what they should be doing) but to hate on Christians. There aren't anywhere near enough Christians speaking out against chain letters, they are very difficult to find, and no one seems to be as vehement about it as I am. But man oh man, it seems whenever there are people on the net sounding off about chain letter spam and the twisted guilt-tripping mindgames they play, those venting about it always seem to be of the non-Christian and left-wing contingent...

So these chain letters actually turn people away from Christ instead of doing what they claim to be doing. And, it's time for Christians to start waking up and realizing that God doesn't work through the tools of liars and hoaxters, and chain letters are certainly not going to save the world. http://CBCF.boardhost.com

JD Curtis said...

I don't pass them along either. Seems pushy to me.

JD Curtis said...

I havent heard from you in awhile. I hope all is well with you and yours.

The Maryland Crustacean said...

All is well. I have just been a bit lazy and easily distracted as of late. Hopefully I will get back into the swing of things soon. Thanks for asking.