Eugene Cho

please, don’t be a jerk

In a pluralistic world of a plethora of thoughts, ideas, philosophies, and worldviews, it makes total sense to me that Christians need to be equipped and engaged in “contending” for the Gospel.

I get it. I really do.

It’s a larger marketplace of ideas and as such Christians ought to engage this marketplace. We’re no longer entitled the majority of market share – if we’ve even ever held that distinction.

But here’s one thing I’d like to convey: In the pursuit of contending for the gospel:

Please, don’t be a jerk.

Because honestly, “Christian jerks” are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they are doing the Kingdom a great favor.

Let’s contend for the Gospel but let’s not be jerks in the process. Nowhere do I read in the Scriptures, “Contend for the gospel as a jerk.”

What I’m suggesting isn’t all that radical:

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Ephesians 4:26-27; 31-32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

This call is apropos to everyone, in my opinion, because if we’re all honest with ourselves,

there’s a little bit jerk within all of us, right?

We don’t have to be mean spirited. We don’t need to pummel someone down into submission…

Or in other words, while I do indeed appreciate the value and importance of theology and doctrine, I would suggest that what will fascinate people to consider the gospel of Christ – will ultimately be…

“how we live our lives.”

The Holy Spirit will convict and change. May our lives simply testify and point to the truth and gospel of Christ.

Here’s a short snippet from a recent sermon from Philippians about not being a jerk:

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27 Responses

  1. Christians often feel we need to be the ones to convince people that they are in a burning building. No matter how hysterical we act, we cannot convince people to get out of the building unless they believe it is on fire. God convinces them it is on fire. Sometimes he uses what we say and do, but he changes their heart. Then we need to be a friend that is there to help.

  2. Bill B says:

    I concurr whole-heartedly. If we love as Jesus loves, then there is no allowance for being a jerk.

  3. randall says:

    I can’t remember where I heard it, but I remember someone saying, “the Gospel is an offense so we don’t have to make it any more offensive.”

    On another note…

    @Jeremy – I agree with you (and PE) that it’s the Holy Spirit that calls us to Christ but if I could push back a bit on your metaphor of the burning building, I think it could feed into the idea that Christianity is primarily about salvation (getting people out of the burning building, removing one’s self from a fallen world). While evangelism is hugely important, I think just as important is the work of redeeming the fallenness of the world (staying in the building and trying to put the fire out, to use your metaphor).

    • Randy Siever says:

      Love the burning building metaphor…and your extension of it here, randall. I’d go as far as to say that staying in the building and trying to put the fire out IS evangelism, in the sense that we become partners with the King who reigns over all creation in His redemption plan for everything He created. Salvation is not just for human beings.

      Romans 8:20-21 (New Living Translation)

      20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

      Make disciples, not just converts. Join with what Jesus is up to in the world to redeem it all. Stay in the building.

    • Ian Ebright says:

      Randall- you heard it from PE, or at least that’s my guess, because I heard the same thing from him during a sermon.

      I like what you did with Jeremy’s metaphor. Too many “rapture ready” Christians…

  4. James says:

    A great little comic that this reminds me of:

  5. Randy Siever says:

    This is our mission at Doable Evangelism: To help Christians share their faith without being jerks.

    Many evangelists I meet challenge this by saying, “The Gospel is an offense to those who are perishing!” Some have even boldly proclaimed that unless we are offending people we are not proclaiming the “true Gospel” therefore. To which I normally reply, “Are you sure it’s the Gospel that’s offending them? Because it would be a real bummer to find out, at the foot of Jesus, it was you.”

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho and Steve Kimes, Ian Clark. Ian Clark said: “'Xians jerks' are a tragic paradox – especially when they think they're doing the Kingdom a gr8t favor." – @EugeneCho http://bit.ly/hjNjaU […]

  7. catesongbird says:

    I totally hear you. I think the other side of the scenario would also be, don’t be a woos when being a contender of the gospel, either. I’ve seen both extremes, and neither work. It’s become quite a trend to be “loving” but I’ve witnessed a lot of Christians confusing love with being nice and playing it safe. Loving also includes being truthful and opposing, when a situation calls for it.

  8. i agree…wholeheartedly. the world is desperate for the love of christ followers who are seeking to know God, not christian jerks who ‘know’ theology. well said, and well thought out….particularly, ‘doctrine does not save people.’

  9. chad m says:

    it seems to me that only time Jesus was a “jerk,” or “offensive” as some like to argue, was when he was talking to religious folk. hmmmmm.

  10. Chris says:

    I’m very touched by this post, and find much to learn from it.

    However…the first quotation is from James, not Timothy. 1 Timothy 1:19-20 sounds NOTHING like that!

  11. debi says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! For being a cup of cold water, and a breath of desperately needed fresh air 😉 Love and Peace to you.

  12. Bob Brooke says:

    We always need to be ready to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, but that doesn’t mean that we’re to be combative. It’s all about standing on the Rock which is Christ, sure and certain because of Him and the truth that is in Him, while at the same time being willing to help others, and in fact helping them, to find their footing in Him. We in Christ don’t reach out with a closed fist, we reach out with an open hand.

  13. Matt D says:

    You sound like a jerk in this post IMHO.

  14. jchenwa says:

    Just like to say, sometimes it’s not that I want to be a jerk, it’s a weakness. I’ve seen in my wife the best heart, but sometimes she says or does things that don’t agree with that. It’s a shortcoming that I too confess to, but after seeing the power of GOD, I ask why did He allow that to overcome me? I think it’s to show that He is GOD and I am not? But moreover, it’s b/c without Him we are truly nothing. He loves us so much, but when we are truly sad about that, it reveals to Him and the universe that we are sons of GOD. We can realize that.

  15. jchenwa says:

    Have you complimented anyone today? Have you appreciated or blessed anyone today? “-)

  16. […] Eugene Cho commented recently, it’s altogether too easy to act like a jerk in the name of “contending” for the […]

  17. […] gone on the record before that I’m cool w/ folks contending for the gospel but not being jerks in the process. And J. Taylor wrote a decent post. He wasn’t being a jerk in my […]

  18. […] Eugene also wrote a post on it. Tags: Eugene Cho Category: Christianity, […]

  19. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Gandhi

  20. […] You’ve heard me already write and rant about the paradox of Christian jerks: […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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