“Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.” – 1 Timothy 1:15-16
We’ve heard it said before: “That person is too far gone…” But is that actually the truth?
Since I was a kid, the first person that pops into my mind when I hear that phrase is Marilyn Manson, the goth-shock rocker. As a music obsessed teenager, this guy was bizarre, yet fascinating. No, I wasn’t a fan, but he definitely brought theatre to rock unlike anyone before him.
He also brought absolute rage against a god he believed was out there hating him, shaming him, and condemning him. Particularly in the early 90’s, MM had an incredible influence on the alternative sub-culture that became increasingly popular.
In 2005 I was sent to recruit for my college in his hometown of Canton, OH. Strangely enough, he had attended a small private Christian school which happened to be on my schedule. Maybe it was because I was picturing a kid version of Marilyn Manson running around the school that made me feel odd, but one thing stood out: the environment was cold. Ice cold. The school reminded me of a place where hell would be discussed more than redemption…Again, maybe I was wrong. Maybe the school wasn’t so stuck in old school religion as it appeared, but it gave me the creeps.
I still have a memory of walking into a music store in the early 90’s (when they were relevant) and seeing his “Antichrist Superstar” album on the front shelves. The first thought wasn’t, “I need to pray that he experiences the redemption of Jesus.” Nope. The first thought that came to my head was, “That guy is my enemy. He’s dangerous.”
But…What if he isn’t my enemy? What if he simply hasn’t met the real Jesus of the Scriptures? What if he only knows the imaginary god of religious nuts who has a sick sense of humor? What if God is still working on getting his attention?
We have a problem with making faith about “us vs. them”, rather than making it about “us for them”. Marilyn Manson has never been my enemy; he’s just been a talking head. The real enemy is too clever to be summarized by the guise of a top-selling shock rock album.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12
It’s easy to look at someone and say, “God, that person is getting older and they still don’t follow You. Hurry up and get their attention!!!” What’s hard for us to understand is that God is outside of time, not within it like us. He’s not running out of time; He’s working in and through His people on earth.
The question isn’t whether or not God will move before it’s too late; the question is this:
Will we move, speak, love, and share the Gospel with others before it’s too late?
The enemy of all that is good is not a man or a woman. We are at war, but not against each other. We are at war against a power we can’t even comprehend.
That’s why we are called to share the Gospel with the world, not to attack the world with the Gospel. Two very different things.
The Apostle Paul got it right: we are the wretched ones, redeemed by the blood of the one true God. When we start seeing ourselves with sober eyes, we can then see others as they truly are: sin-sick creatures who are desperately loved by God.