By Kevin Deisher
The title of this blog is a take off on the Ken Kesey novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In the story, Randle Patrick McMurphy has a criminal past and has once again found himself on the wrong side of the law. Rather than continually submit to hard labor in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a mental institution. He figured that being in a mental ward would be easier than being in a prison doing hard labor. He was wrong.
The key here is that when he entered the mental institution, McMurphy was normal but pretending to be insane. He probably could have gotten himself out of the hospital through positive behavior and trying to convince a doctor of his sanity. The problem is, he didn’t want to do that and instead stayed there. But that is as far as I go with the plot of the book and movie, both of which are fantastic.
So why is the title of the blog a takeoff of that story? Because, I believe, there are many (not all by far) Christians who are like R. P. McMurphy when it comes to their ability to take themselves out of the comfort of church. As Christians we are commanded to share the Gospel of Christ and go into the entire world and make disciples. Too many of us are afraid of what will happen to us in the real world of witnessing to others. Being afraid of proselytizing is huge because people are afraid as coming across as “preachy” and condemning of others choices in life. In this very pluralistic world in which we live, many Christians are concerned with coming across as intolerant. Many Christians are also reluctant to share their faith because they are concerned they don’t know how to respond to unbelievers’ questions. These are all understandable and sometimes I feel this way. But we need to change this thinking.
Comedian Penn Jillette, from Penn and Teller, who is an avid atheist, shared a very poignant commentary for Christians:
“If you believe that there is a heaven or hell, or that people could be going to hell, or not get eternal life, and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
His words are particularly biting because they are sadly true and condemning of Christians who, like R. P. McMurphy, are afraid to leave the mental institution/church. They (we) are afraid to go back into the real world and face possible rejection and embarrassment, all the while allowing unbelievers to stumble through life on their way to an eternal punishment. Shame on all of us for our passive and wrong thinking. Shame on all of us for thinking the only ones who are qualified to share the Gospel are paid professionals. We are the ones Jesus Christ called to share the Gospel and to bring others to eternal life with him. So let’s get off our collective tails and get out of the church, which we are free to leave, and share the most important thing in our lives.