Friday, 7 June 2013

One of Those Difficult Questions

At a recent Alpha conference in Calgary, during an on-stage panel discussion, someone from the audience asked the question, "What is the most difficult question you've ever been asked, as an Alpha small-group leader, and how did you answer it?"

I was not on the panel, but wish I had been, because I thought of this example.

It was during one of my prison Alpha courses. A Native Canadian - would have been in his late'40's or early 50's I suppose - tall, distinguished, in a warrior sort of way that the prison system had not been able to beat out of him; long salt and pepper hair pulled back behind his ears and over the collar of his orange jumpsuit, said this:
When my father was a boy he was taken from his home, his village and his people, and sent to a white man's school. They tried to take away his language and his culture and turn him into a little white man. He never recovered from it, nor did my family. The people who did this represented your Jesus. What do you say about that?
I must admit I didn't give the standard Alpha small group leader answer, "That's interesting. What does anyone else think?"

Instead, I remembered a story told by, I believe, Ravi Zaccharias:
There was a small village. In that village was a well respected man, loved by all. This man had a very distinctive coat and a very recognizable hat. In fact, you could tell even from a distance when he was coming, because you could see his hat and coat. They would say, "Here comes Mr So-and-so; we can see his hat and coat."

One day a thief stole that coat and hat, put it on and robbed a corner store. Police were called in and all the witnesses said, "It was Mr So-and-so - we recognized his hat and coat." But, of course, it wasn't Mr So-and-so. It was just someone wearing his hat and coat.
Many things have been done in Jesus' name - some of them even well-intentioned. but don't blame Jesus for some of the pain. Sometimes it's just been someone wearing his hat and coat. 

I left it at that.

Take Care