Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Only Half Right

In the December, 1993 issue of Playboy Magazine… or so I’m told… famed conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, gets his two-cents published to an audience not likely to hear from him often.  With such a broad fan base, it is no surprise that more than a few listeners called Rush’s show chiding him for being used to promote and sell more copies of the not-so-conservative magazine.  Indeed, they said, the conservative position is starkly against porn and the degradation of women.  Rush’s response was typical, something to the effect of “If Jesus were alive today, he would relish the opportunity to be interviewed by Playboy.  Look who He hung out with.”  Let’s check with our Sponsor to make sure Rush has his story right:
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him [Jesus] to dine with him [Pharisee], and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.  (Luke 7:36-38)
And by “sinner”, Luke was delicately indicating that the woman was a prostitute.  There are several other accounts in scripture that record Jesus hanging out with sinners or all sorts.  So Rush was right (just as he so often claims), Jesus seemed to frequently find Himself in the company of the unsavory elements of our society.  But in his zeal to vindicate himself, Rush missed something even more important than who Jesus found fellowship with.  Let’s check back in with our Sponsor:
Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)
Jesus, like Rush, was a man on a mission.  But instead of talking about politics and economics, Jesus was in the soul-saving business.  He did not shun the presence of sinners, but He never once countenanced their sin – He confronted it.  Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery?  Jesus said to her, “…go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11).

Rush’s defense of his interview in Playboy is weak.  He was wrong by comparing methods instead of message.  Rush also suggests a dangerous openness to temptation.  Granted, we have to be in contact with sinners to share the gospel with them, right?  (Thankfully someone shared the gospel with me when I was a sinner.)  But let’s be very cautious.  Followers of Jesus stay focused on the message and the mission.  Followers of Jesus guard their hearts to stay pure and focused in the mission field.  Remember the words of Jesus as He sent out his first batch of missionaries:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”  (Matthew 10:16)
Clark H Smith

ps – While looking for images for this post, I searched a wide variety of options.  This Google result was pretty funny:  “No results found for ‘hugh hefner in church.’

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