BY: GIOVANNA GOMEZ
BIBLE TEXT: 2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV): “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”
PERSONAL REFLECTION: College campuses are a breeding ground for social activists and free speech. I’ve been back in college for two years now, and on any given day I may find people demonstrating or giving speeches on any number of issues. It can be quite exciting as you never know what you might encounter.
While I was at Volunteer State Community College, there was a man who would come every semester and preach in the free speech area. With a microphone in hand, he stood on a proverbial and literal soapbox (he really did stand on a platform) and draw big crowds. His words were powerful because they were loud, full of anger and condemnation towards sinners, and quite frankly very dramatic. Those who dared to argue with him found themselves caught up in a theological debate with no hope of winning. The man on the soapbox had the most amazing ability of twisting anyone’s words against them and backing them up with Bible verses with incredible authority. He was gifted at it. His demeanor was incredibly divisive, argumentative, and full of controversy and judgment. He incited angry mobs and fights instead of unity, and instead of attracting students to Jesus, he repelled them. I remembered wanting to cry as I watched the students yell at him, and at one point I prayed, “Oh, my dear Jesus. This is not the way I want You to be represented. This is NOT who You are! This is POISON!”
At Middle Tennessee State University there is also a “preacher.” He is quite different, though. He is an older man with a glorious, Duck Dynasty type of beard. He doesn’t have a microphone and he doesn’t stand on a soapbox. He simply sits by the library every day with a sign next to him that says, “If you have any questions about Christianity please ask.” I’ve seen him on campus almost every day since I’ve been attending, and every day there is a crowd of students waiting to talk to him. This man perplexes me because he is adored. He is the complete opposite of the man on the soapbox at Volunteer State. He is quiet, humble, and non-assuming. He isn’t loud and argumentative and what surrounds him is not anger but peace.
The other day I decided to sit by him because I wanted to hear what he had to say to the students that approached him. (OK.. maybe I was eavesdropping! But I was full of curiosity, and I just had know what this man’s appeal was and I quickly discovered it!) The man with the glorious beard knew every student that approached him by their first name. A student, who was clearly not a believer, wanted to discuss the evil of this world and the atrocities committed during World War 2. The man listened to the student with respect, kindness, patience, and compassion and was somehow able to eloquently tie in his concerns with Adam and Eve and the choice of sin. The student became riveted and captivated by his words. And why wouldn’t he? You could feel love and care in his voice. Even I was riveted! There was no condemnation, no judgment, no accusations, or finger-pointing… just wonderful, peaceful, interesting, and affirming conversations about stories and people. He reminded me of Jesus.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” Sometimes Christians with “good intentions” cause horrible and hurtful divisions among the body of Christ, and sadly, they repel non-believers in the name of some “righteous cause.” Let’s be careful. The mob that crucified Jesus thought they were standing up for a righteous cause too. Today I ask myself, “What is my motive? Where is my heart? Where am I standing? Am I proudly standing on a soapbox with a microphone passing judgment and making sure that everyone can hear my so-called knowledge, or am I sitting down peacefully, humbly loving people and genuinely enjoying the company of believers and non-believers?”
PRAYER: Father God, give me wisdom. Make me a person of integrity… a person who reflects Your Son! I repent for judging, for making assumptions, for misleading believers and non-believers. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF! I want to show the world who You are through love and compassion. Holy Spirit, change me. Make me like Jesus.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Giovanna Gomez is blissfully married to Hubert and they will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this coming August. They, along with their children Andrew and Rachel, have been citizens of Life Assembly since 2004. Giovanna is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work and a minor in family studies at Middle Tennessee State University. When she is not reading a textbook she enjoys flower gardening and hiking. She looks forward to graduating in May 2014.