Last weekend I spent part of my Saturday in Downtown Salt Lake City hugging total strangers. That’s right, I stood on a downtown corner with a sign in my hand that said “Got Hugs?” and total strangers came up to me and thanked me for doing it, while others said “you guys are great!”
Myles and Shanda had signs too… as a family (Myles counted and beat us all) we gave out 100’s of hugs to people attending the semi-annual LDS General Conference. The conference is attended by over 100,000 Mormon faithful to hear the leaders of the church speak about where the church is going… each year updates are given on membership, temples that are being built around the world, and the future of the LDS Church. The conference center in Salt Lake City is a site to see with over 21,000 seats.
So why were we there? My Pastor Charles Hill went down to the conference last year to see what all the fuss was about, and what he found broke his heart. Men standing outside the conference with HUGE signs yelling and screaming at the Mormon folks walking outside of the conference. What did they yell and what do their signs say? Things like, “you turn your women into whores”. “Hey Mormon, how do you suppose Jesus and the Devil are brothers, prove it Mormon.” “Wake up, little Mormons, wake up… Jesus shed his blood for you!” and the hits just keep on coming. There are plenty of videos from previous conferences, you can watch them for yourself on YouTube, check this one out!
But why did we go? The people that are being yelled at, and abused verbally by these so-called “Christians” are our neighbors… they are our teachers, our friends, and most importantly they are PEOPLE who are valued by God! Can you imagine Jesus speaking to the women at the well and yelling this kind of stuff at her? Can you see him treating anyone like this? I think the answer is clear… he would not have anything to do with these men yelling and screaming at people with no other agenda than to upset them with hateful words and provoke a response that only builds their own selfish pride rather than building a bridge to a relationship!
What did I learn from our little visit to the 2011 LDS Conference… I learned that people will respond to someone who is there for the right reasons. If your motive to share Jesus with someone is pure, people will listen… And agree with you or not, they will have no choice but to take what you are saying seriously because you are motivated by LOVE not HATE! When it escalates to yelling and bad mouthing people for their beliefs while dragging their holy book on the ground all you get is a big fat slice of prideful pie… which goes against everything Jesus and his disciples accomplished 2000 years ago. The world was changed by followers of Jesus loving people into a position to see Christ clearly, not by mocking people and challenging their man-hood!
By the way, the Mormons were not the only people who got yelled at by these winners! Yep, they hated us too!
Until the next conference in October…
Grace and Peace
Check out the Christian Post article -http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-counter-hate-offer-love-to-mormons-49714/