I was reading today and it reminded me of the following…
The gentleman came up to me as I sat at the “table” at the craft fair, copies of our “Music Association” calendar in front of me. We sell them there as a fundraiser to try to support music in the schools…in whatever way we can. We made small talk. He found out I was a pastor who was also the “Music Coach” at the high school, working with the kids once a week and helping move them towards performance dates.
At that point, the conversation turned. The gentlemen made very clear that he wasn’t allowed to go into the (Alaskan) public school in his hometown because they “hated Jesus” and wouldn’t let him talk about Jesus there. He said, “If you even mention the name ‘Jesus’ you’ll be run out of the school. It’s a sad state our country is in that you don’t even have the right to mention Jesus.”
I told him that I had not had any problems with the schools in our community. But I admitted that I wasn’t in them, primarily, to talk about Jesus. I was in them because I wanted to support my kids and other kids and because I have a love for all kinds of music and want to encourage music any way that I can.
He was surprised — honestly surprised — that I didn’t have an issue with the school system or didn’t feel pressure from principals, that I didn’t feel stifled, that I didn’t feel my “religious liberty” was being infringed upon.
And I don’t.
Because, while I’m a Bible-believing, Christian, I’m not there to talk about Jesus. I’m not using music or support of my kids as some underhanded way to sneak the Gospel into kid’s lives. It’s not a “bait and switch.” I honestly want to encourage music and encourage the kids in their endeavors. I honestly want to see them excel — in school and in life. I honestly want to be there with them as they work on musical numbers.
Now, I don’t minimize my faith as I do so. I’m not “less Christian” when I’m in the school than when I’m not. And, I would argue, my love and support of the kids (and my love and support of music) springs from my understanding of grace and creation and what I think God has called me to do and be. The high school kids all know I’m a pastor, even if I don’t start us off with a prayer and force them to sing “Jesus songs.” They know I love Jesus and I believe they know I love them.
But I don’t need to talk about Jesus to show it.
And, in fact, sometimes not talking about Jesus is the best way to show what Jesus is like.
Some of us Christians and some of our churches need to be reminded about this.