Last Saturday morning my wife and I were strolling around the San Francisco Ferry Building. We were in San Francisco celebrating 23 years of marriage! What a ride it has been! I love her more now than I did when I said “I do” 23 years ago. We were checking out the electric, Saturday morning, scene at the Ferry building where all the food vendors showcased the most amazing organic foods, street Jazz musicians played great tunes, drummers banged on garbage cans, and artists sold their wares. It’s a fun scene to walk through, get a great cup of coffee, eat amazing fresh bread from Acme Bread, and eat an exquisite Asian Pear. Good stuff.
As Aleta and I made our way onto the Embarcadero Plaza we saw a gathering crowd of people with signs. As we looked closer we could tell that many Asian people from the city were gathering with signs that read “Tragedy, not Crime.” The crowd got bigger, and bigger and you could tell they were gathering for some kind of protest rally in order to make a statement. Here’s the thing, most people walked right on by, but even for someone like me who was very curious I could not tell what they were trying to say. Was this about something that happened in San Francisco or China? What happened to cause this protest? What is the main thing that they’re trying to tell all of us? I walked away honestly not having a clue. I wanted the protest group to go back to their planning meetings to find a better way to be more clear about what they were trying to say.
As I walked away, it dawned on me that the church sort of looks like that protest to most people in the world. We in the church gather, we get worked up about things going on in the world, and we try to do something that communicates our values and our concerns, but most people just walk by. Even for people who are a little curious about what we’re doing, it’s not clear to them what we’re about, what we’re protesting, or what we’re trying to say. Most of the world just thinks people who follow Jesus are simply “against things” and even worse – “against us.” It is so important that I clearly communicate the Gospel when I share it one on one, in a public setting, or even when the Gospel intersects and important area of social justice (as it was done so effectively under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in the 60’s).