Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hi There!


The other night I was at Starbucks and was startled by this tract I found lying on the condiment station. Nothing says "God loved you enough to sacrifice His Son" like...the Grim Reaper! Although the tract did its work of attracting my attention, I was disturbed by its macabre imagery. Let alone the fact that "Hi There!" seemed a ridiculous message to accompany the image. I flipped through the tract for about a minute to determine whether it was, in fact, "Christian," and was satisfied after glimpsing some passages from Romans in the back.

Here's the description I found online:
An illustrated general gospel 'Chick tract' presenting a strong message about a construction worker who is suddenly cut down in death and finds out too late that he's in hell with no escape. This is a 'cartoon' style tract written and drawn by Jack Chick.

Now if you read Scripture and understand the destiny of the lost, it's scary. But using the Grim Reaper as the poster child for a loving Savior seems wrong. My reaction to that tract was repulsion, an emotion I would prefer non-believers NOT associate with my Lord. What might be a better image and story line? Perhaps modernized biblical stories could be effective. The prodigal son, for example. Or Paul on the road to Damascus. Even the Philippian jailor. None of these repentant sinners was "suddenly cut down in death." Jesus didn't use fear to draw people to God's plan of Salvation, and I don't think His followers should either.

9 Comments:

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Becky said...

I could not agree more, Suzanne. I think this kind of "witnessing" probably does more harm than good. That's really sad. So here's my question ... did you leave tract on the condiment stand at Starbucks? Or "accidentally" knock it into the trash?

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Wow. The Grim Reaper is a bit dark, huh? When Ted and I were out at Way of the Master Ministries last summer, they had a lot of tracks and most of them used humor or some sort of creative twist on a piece of everyday life (such as their million dollar bill) to capture people's attention. I would think this may be more effective and less "grim."

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

You know, Becky. That is not a bad idea. But despite my disgust at the tract, I wondered if someone maybe needed to read it. People come to Christ is strange ways sometimes.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Chick tracts are creepy. I've run across a number of them at Pikes Perk, and every one was trying it's best to terrify people into the kingdom. The problem is, our generation is so jaded that this kind of tract doesn't come across scary, it comes across laughable...

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Frank Martens said...

Ya know, I agree... I'm no big fan of Chick tracts, especially this one.

But ya know... it's easy to be repulsed at this and way to far on giving the message of Christ that doesn't show the real reason for that message. What I mean is... some people have rebounded in response to seeing this kind of evangelism and gone so far to the opposite extreme they forget when sharing the gospel that people need to identify that they are sinners and need Christ.

Anyway, off my soap box. Have a great one! :)

 
At 3:05 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Point well-taken, Frank. Jesus came with truth and grace and He knew exactly when to incorporate each approach. You're right on when you say that we need to be willing to speak the truth even if it's scary. It just seems that is more effective within the context of relationship. Thanks for the comment!

 
At 10:40 PM, Blogger Darren Larson said...

I guess we could always make a tract about the banana. It's much more cheerful than the Grim Reaper and evidently it's the "athiest's nightmare." But I'll let you decide about that one!

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Jason Rhue said...

Suzanne, thanks for sharing your feelings. That picture is creepy, but we shouldn't judge a book (or chick tract) by its cover.

Jesus himself taught as much about hell as he did about heaven. Why? There must be some value in us realizing the consequences of our actions.

In fact, I found some of Jesus' words that closely resemble the cover of that Chick tract.

Matt 13:37-43
7 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. NIV

The truth that the Gospel is not complete without a clear depiction of judgement and hell. It is also true that Jesus gave comfort to those who honestly feared God and ascribed value to them (relational value). Sometimes his comfort came immediately after a teaching about hell.

Matt 10:28-31
8 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. NIV

It's ironic to me how critical we can become as Christians, the ones who are supposed to be most familiar with grace and love, judging everything around us (I have judged Chick tracts in the past as well). Yet we mostly refuse to acknowledge that it is God alone who calls, who justifies, who saves, who sactifies. As though we must worry and fret that we can interfere with His plan, that we can somehow discourage those who he has predestined to be with Him for eternity. How arrogant have we grown and how little do we really understand His sovereignty.

Let me clarify, we should love the things Jesus love and hate the things Jesus hates, but we should never be judgmental. That is his responsibility alone (Matt. 7:1-2)

Father, have mercy on us, especially those of us who pass judgment.

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Thanks for the comment, Jason. I definitely see your point. This is the feedback I have been receiving. I'm still not convinced that a grim reaper is the best way to present the Savior, but you are right that we cannot know the methods (possibly even these tracts) by which God draws the sinner to Himself. Thanks for the reminder.

 

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