Evangelical pastor J.A. Medders thinks asking people What do you think Jesus is doing right now? is a great way to start a conversation with unbelievers. Medders writes:
If you struggle to get the conversation with your friend, neighbor, or barber rolling toward the gospel, there is one question you can ask that will get you there quickly. Whether you are talking to an Uber driver, a family member, or the server at The Cheesecake Factory, this question will likely get a friendly gospel conversation rolling:
“What do you think Jesus is doing right now?”
When I recently asked this question to our server at a restaurant, she was struck. “What do you mean is doing? He’s dead. He’s not alive.” She picked up on my grammar. The red carpet suddenly rolled out for me to tell her Jesus is not dead. He folded up his grave clothes, walked out alive, is still alive today, and desires for her to be saved.
Just what every server wants to hear, right? Evidently, Medders doesn’t understand personal boundaries or that discussion about religion and politics should be off-limits in work and social gatherings — especially in public settings. Sadly, Evangelical zealots such as Medders believe they have a God-given right to verbalize their beliefs to anyone, anytime, everywhere. Medders is like one of my grandchildren — a three-year-old — who gets out the community toys and declares, Ezra’s toys. In his mind, all the toys belong to him, to the exclusion of our twelve other grandchildren. Medders is the typical selfish preacher who sees people as toys. He claims these toys for his own, in Jesus’s name. Instead of being a decent person, Medders chooses to inflict his religion upon an unsuspecting, busy, hardworking server.
The server — likely clueless that Medders has an ulterior motive — innocently answers his question, only to then be forced to listen to his red-carpet-rolled-out preaching. Medders clearly violated the server’s personal space and kept her from taking care of other customers (you know, those who don’t see people as prospects for evangelization). In other words, Pastor Medders, a card-carrying member of Club John Calvin®, defrauded the server and her employer by robbing them of her time.
As for Medders’ question? The server was right. Jesus is dead. His bones lie buried in an unknown grave near Jerusalem. This Jesus, as with all humans, lived and died, end of story. Telling someone what the Bible says about a Jesus who lived two thousand years ago is not evidence for the claims Evangelicals make for their peculiar God. Outside of Bible, there is no evidence for what Medders claims. Either someone believes by faith what the Bible says or they don’t. Medders believes. Great! Go with God, but quit forcing others to listen to your religious drivel.
Of course, as a good Calvinist, Medders believes that it is God alone who saves. Medders has been tasked by God to preach the gospel, but it is up to the Holy Spirit to give dead sinners life (regeneration) so they can truly hear the gospel. I say truly hear because Calvinists believe that people can hear the gospel, but not really hear it. Only those who are the elect (chosen, predestinated) will savingly hear the gospel. The non-elect, people not chosen by God before the foundation of the world, can “hear” the gospel, but it will have no effect. Yet, God holds the non-elect responsible for hearing the gospel despite their inability to savingly hear the gospel. Sound convoluted and contradictory? Welcome to Calvinism.
Medders likely views himself as a sower of seeds. Wherever he goes he throws seeds to the wind, trusting that God will cause some of the seeds to sprout and produce fruit. It is God who saves, so why not preach to whomever, wherever, and let God do his work, right? I wonder how Medders might respond to the server if she said what was likely on her mind: Fuck off, asshole. I have customers to take care of and I have no time for listening to you tell me fables from an ancient religious text. Of course, unlike Medders, the server is polite and respectful, so she quickly answered Medders’ question, only to then to subjected to his preaching.
Medders needs to spend some time with unbelievers who work service jobs. Perhaps they can school him in how attempts at evangelization are viewed by them. Perhaps readers who work or used to work in the service industry can share in the comment section how they view those who attempt to evangelize them while they are working.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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I think he is weeping uncontrollably.
I like that answer. Now that I’ve had some time to think about it, I think my response will be: “Right now? With my luck, I caught him on the toilet.”
A guy I knew who did this sort of evangelising/overstepping personal boundaries often said the stranger he’d held captive with his bible thumping …”was absolutely fascinated by what I was saying…”. He never understood that most folk are too polite (In UK society anyway) to tell him to go away. I most pity the guy he sat next to on an 8hr flight and claims to have ‘witnessed to all that time because we got on really well!’ And I saw him do it in restaurants with, as you say, no thought for the fact obvious to the rest of us that the poor server had several tables and orders waiting and he was behaving so inappropriately and disrespectfully to her, believing he could get her ‘gloriously saved’.
A minor quibble: even if there really was a single person named Jesus who died on a cross (doubtful to my mind, I’m a mythicist), it’s further unlikely that he would have been given a grave; IIRC, the Romans liked to further humiliate the memories of the crucified by leaving their bodies for animal scavenging. But it’s really hard to get a died -> rose from the dead scenario out of that reality.
All I can do is hope Medders picks on a few atheists that will hand him his head on a platter. Of course, then he’s being “persecuted”.
Pastor J.A. Medders: Fuck off, ignorant bully.
This one wouldn’t work on me at all, as I would retort: “I don’t care what Jesus is doing right now”
How horrible and uncaring it is to pull that unloving crapola on someone just trying to get through their work day..
My DIL’s grandpa is like this “pastor”. Bless his heart (ok – the original SC diss), he is in his 80’s and routinely “sows the seed” at the local Food Lion (grocery store) parking lot that we both happen to shop at. I routinely look out for him and bail out his unsuspecting, way too polite “marks”. sigh………. He doesn’t drive anymore (thank god), so I usually interrupt and say “Pastor DIL’s grandpa, let me drive you home, it’s so hot out here and I don’t want you to have to walk in this heat”. I then have to endure his preaching, but I just tune him out.
You make me smile oldbroad1 and, to my way of seeing these things, IF (gigantically huge if) Jesus could see your act of kindness both to the old man and his mark, He would nod with approval. The Golden Rule has been been adopted by many cultures and faiths (including Christianity) and I think is as close to being a universal code of conduct as the world has. That you are able to bestow a kindness on both of those people is a wonderful example of humanity at its best. May the blessing you are return to you seven-fold.
I find it more than amusing as someone who remains a woman of faith that most days that I find people here who I would love to chat with in person over dinner or beers and the thought of having to share a meal with a hard-core Calvinist destroys any sense of appetite for food, or discussion (though the desire for beer might well increase to craving and right through to need).
My thanks to Bruce and the community here for restoring my faith, not in God, but in humanity itself. Some days lately, it’s hard.
I try to “live and let live” when it comes to religion. My mom raised me RC eventho my dad was a dyed-in-wool Presbyterian deacon. Actually, my dad was much more open minded than my Mom. He always tried to see the good in everyone – most nonjudgmental. I was fortunate in that regard. Moving to the south (SC) brought into stark relief for me the nastiness that is fundamental evangelist bullshit. I have become more and more less tolerant of this crap. sigh, an 80 something year old man, tho? Gotta live and let live.
I wonder if this was what he left for a tip:
I’ll bet it was nothing of value. Probably a tract. Most servers HATE to wait on people preaching to them.
These preacher types think nothing of taking your time. I wonder how they would react if someone walked into their church next Sunday and wanted to chat just as Preacher Fire & Brimstone was preparing to close.
“I think Jesus is planning smiting for the idiots who insist that the Bible be taken literally. Then He’s planning something really special for the misogynist bastards who continue to use His name to oppress and abuse women and children. Stay tuned!”
It would be fun to watch Medders’ face while he comprehends that answer, wouldn’t it?
Here’s another reason for restaurant staff to hate the after-church crowd. Not only do they not tip well, now they’re tying up the servers’ time with useless drivel, helping to reduce their tips from other customers who aren’t being served.
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I think that as humans we often fail to understand someone else’s point of view – especially if it is very different to ours.
A muslim evangelist told me the death penalty was appropriate for someone lying about islam (i.e. Saying Quran is made up etc). To me this was abhorrent and I initially thought he was crazy but as I chatted to him I undestood a bit more where he was coming from.
In his mind telling people that islam is false is leading them to hell – so better kill one person for ‘treason and endangering others’ than see innocent muslims led astray. I still think he is an idiot and a danger to society but at least I understand him a bit more.
Medders is acting out of a desire to save the waitress / hairdresser etc from hell. His motives are ‘loving’ even if they are misguided.
His problem is he fails to grasp how stupid that question sounds to a unbeliever or anyone educated in the scholarship surrounding the historical jesus. Also the sad fact is that his brand of religion can’t help but see people as targets.
But you know if Jesus really loved that waitress wouldn’t he show up himself and not leave it to his salesmen?
Nice try, JR. You are a generous person but I don’t buy that this bully in sheep garb offered you any understanding whatsoever. It is the exact equivalent of “this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you” and it is bullshite to suggest otherwise. Medders is acting out of a need to harm others, to forego any decency where personal boundaries are concerned. If he cared about the human being earning a shit wage serving food and depending on tips to make a living, then he would first broach his subject with a very polite and diplomatic query, asking permission to talk about religion/failth/Jesus. Then the waiter would have a choice to decline, hopefully as politely. The very statement that his motives are “loving” is misguided doo-doo and implies that you see what a good guy this prick is, really a good guy deep inside who wants me to be saved from what I deserve according to his sick faith. Well, fuck him, I say again. And please don’t be so understanding when people trample on your day… It hurts me to know that Medders is busy right now bothering people. I have an older brother who does the same thing, won’t even let me finish a short narrative before he injects his viral faith into my life. Holy fucking Christ, JR. His failure is not that he fails to grasp how stupid the uestion sounds… His purpose is to entrap and traps hurt.
Now, let me be clear 😉 JR is standing up for a poor fellow who takes money from people for telling them fairy stories. He wants me to understand that Medders is really a great guy or at least okay. He is just trying to help. JR doesn’t mean to support Medders ways at all but doesn’t want people like Brian to get upset and misunderstand Medders/Jesus who is really really just a guy who believes fairy tales. What harm is there in that…. Christianity as it is known in these-here-parts is a sick conconction of human damage let loose tax-free on the land. It is full of harm even if it offers ‘free’ soup here and there. By the way, JR, that Muslim evangelist is fucking idiot too and needs to be told to respect others or be told to fuck right off! What ever happened to decent boundaries!
Fair points Brian I agree with most of what you say. Especially the part when you say that the guy should ask permission to talk about faith issues and not try and trap someone into it.
But although I don’t know the guy I have a hard time labelling him a bully. Partly because I have to admit that like him I used to try and ‘make the most of every oportunity’ to share the ‘good news’ and my motives were not to bully people or make them feel bad. I genuinely thought I was doing a loving thing. The fact that they may get offended or hate me for it meant that i was nervous every time I did it. It was risky especially if I knew the person. Would they think I was stupid? Wierd? Because of this I really didn’t want to talk to people about Jesus. But because I thought they were lost and needed saving I would try and be brave and share my faith. However most of the time I would be too embarrassed and say nothing!
My point is i didn’t relish or delight in those uncomfortable conversations. But I believed that for the sake of the ‘lost’ I needed to share Jesus. I was not evil (then again I would say that) I was misguided.
Arguements about politeness or personal boundaries would not have stopped me. When you consider the prospect of hell sometimes you need to be controversial / confrontational – I thought. What did stop me were doubts about the reality of hell, questions about the bible’s trustworthiness and God’s silence. To kill the snake you must strike the head.
I too was always uncomfortable sharing the one, true Word. The reason was that my whole body still knew what I refused to admit in my head, that I was being told by the Fellowship Baptist Church to git-on-board and save the lost, that it was me that Jesus died for so I could take the message to others. But what is under all this coercion? When you look at the bullying pressures brought to bear on believers in these churches, even the children, then it becomes very very difficult for me to taste the sweet motives you speak of, the true intent to help. In the Crusades, murdering for God was help because among the slaughtered, among the women, children and even local believers who were butchered, ‘God will know His Own’.
My assertion here is that you were a bully, as I was and that your concern was for spreading the virus that had you all gah-gah for Jeebers. You wanted to share your good feelings and make people understand that they were doomed. Because you misinterpreted your negative feelings, abreacted and told yourself that the lost might REACT you attribute your bad feelings to something covering your bully feelings. Do you imagine that bullies are not nervous about what they do to others, that they are all psychopaths? I did not say your were evil and do not think you were but you pushed people around and forced them. This is the version of Christianity I was born into and Christianity like this is a bootcamp for bullying others.
You were indeed misguided and my protests would never have stopped you (or me in the day)
To kill the snake you must strike the head, indeed. Admit your past. Did you ever ask for permission to put the fear of hell into a stranger?
I have no trouble owning up to and admitting that I was wrong and misled people in the past. And yes at times I did push my beliefs on others and speak inappropriately about hell and for that I am ashamed.
But I have never lived in a christian bubble as some in America do. I had non Christian family and many of my best friends were non christians. Believe me looking at your best mate through a pint of beer and considering that he may spend eternity in hell stirs up feelings of deep sadness and compassion for him. In that instance there is no intent to bully or dominate or even prove you are right and he is wrong.
I don’t buy that all christians who evangelise are bullies any more than I think that anyone who goes out to persuade others of something they are convinced of (who to vote for, ban the bomb, save the rainforest etc) are bullies. Am I bullying the tramps outside my work by telling them about the free (secular btw) shelter available across town? Or am I motivated by a desire to help my fellow man.
Intent is one thing, what actually happens is another. In virtually every instance, Evangelical witnessing/soulwinning — whatever the method — is the the invading of the personal space of others uninvited. These evsngelizers use friendship as a pretext. I have one Christian friend and we are still friends because he loves and respects me enough to let me go to hell.
People do all sorts of things deemed harmful. I have a neighbor who drinks too much. I am concerned about him. Should I go knock on his door and preach to him the gospel of sobriety? Or should I get close to him so I can then get him into a rehab that is owned by my father?
Since what Christians believe have no foundation in reality, why should they get a free pass when it comes to proper social decorum and conduct.
Well I think that is the heart of the matter – Christian beliefs have no foundation in reality. So evangelizers need to realise that it is not appropriate to witness at every chance they get when they have no proof at all of what they are talking about.
It is good your christian friend doesn’t try to convert you. I guess he has realised what so many don’t – that you have heard it all before. What could he say different.
If the main man is up there let’s hear it from the horses mouth and not his minions.
What is Jesus doing right now?
Playing first base for the Blue Jays, last I heard.
Reminds me of that other old joke….
Q: What would Abraham Lincoln be doing if he were alive today?
A: Scratching furiously on the inside of his coffin.
Coming at this from a different angle, I thought Jesus and God are the same thing. God, I keep being told by apologists, exists ‘outside of time’ (a handy, crafty, and devious way of them circumventing the who created God question). So if God exists outside of time then, presumably, so does Jesus. In which case the word ‘now’ is meaningless.
“If you struggle to get the conversation with your friend, neighbor, or barber rolling toward the gospel . . .” then the reason you’re ‘struggling’ is that they don’t want to talk to you about it. Yeah, go ahead and ask that question: I can’t imagine a better way to push people further away from your ‘anvil of truth’ OR your ‘friendly’ conversational disingenuousness.
ah, the asshole Christians that every server knows. Hmmm, I wonder if I had been there and said “Well, he’s wanking off with a juicy handful of lube” what he would have said.