British Prime Minister Winston Churchill attended a reception during a speaking tour in Canada, and found himself seated next to a stiff-necked Methodist bishop. It was still early in the day, but the host knew Churchill liked his whiskey, so a young waitress appeared with a tray of glasses. She offered one to Churchill, which he of course took, the other guests also graciously accepted, but then she came to the Methodist bishop. The bishop pulled himself up to his full height, and with a very spiritual sounding voice said:
“Young lady, I’d rather commit adultery than drink whiskey.”
Churchill immediately called the girl back. “Come back, young lady; I didn’t know we had a choice.”
Writer Os Guinness uses this great story in his book “Prophetic Untimeliness” to remind us that as Christians, sometimes the well-intentioned ways we engage the surrounding culture only look stupid and foolish to everyone else. When I look at much of the expression of our faith on Christian TV, on the radio, or in bookstores I often want to hide, cry, or get angry.
Before we assert the claim to speak for God, we need to realize the humility that comes with that kind of responsibility. Too often when Christians say “thus saith the Lord,” it’s in reality, only what THEY want.
No matter how well-intentioned our actions, if we don’t communicate the right message in the right spirit, we’ve failed.