Church Walls Graffitied; Pastor's Grace-Filled Response: 'The Heart of Our Story is the Radical Love of God...'
Aimee Herd : Jun 16, 2021
Breaking Christian News
"...Again, I know you probably won't read this post, but if you do I would love to meet you. I would love to hear your story and share a meal at the table. I have this strange feeling that you might change your mind about Jesus and His people. Who knows, you might even decide to follow Him yourself..." -Pastor Will Dyer
One of the things I love about accounts of the Lord Jesus in the Bible, is how He acted (not RE-acted) in grace and wisdom to those around Him, and their often demeaning words. (Image: Facebook-First Baptist Church of Augusta)
It's something we, as Believers-in-Jesus, are called to model to the world, but at which we all—myself included—often fail.
When Senior Pastor Will Dyer of the First Baptist Church of Augusta, GA, arrived at his church's campus earlier this month, he was greeted with offensive graffiti spray painted on the building's red-brick walls. The messages railed against Christians and God.
However, instead of immediately giving in to anger or offense at the crime, Pastor Dyer stopped to consider the state of the perpetrator: What drove this person to take this action? And how can I reach beyond the hurt this has caused me, and maybe touch this person with the love of Jesus?
Pastor Dyer's words, reprinted below, from his Facebook post, reveal this kind of grace-filled thinking, and actions that seem pretty much in line with the heart of our God.
"This morning when I arrived on campus, I was greeted by a series of less than pleasant scenes. As you can see in these photos, someone decided to write a few messages on our church buildings via graffiti. Needless to say, this is not how I was planning to start my day. I wasn't quite sure what to think as I laid eyes on those spray-painted words. At some point, my thoughts were very practical. We need to file a police report. We need to look at our security camera footage. Things of that nature were obviously going through my head. However, reading what was written on our church buildings, first and foremost, I couldn't help but think about the person (or people) who thought it was a good idea to write such hateful and angry rhetoric on our walls. I wonder, what experiences have they had with Christians in the past that led them to believe that, as they put it, 'Christians are the problem'? Where have they had difficulties in their lives that leads to the thought that 'God is Dead'? (There were seven or eight other sentences they wrote, but they are much better left unwritten).
"Our buildings will be cleaned. By the end of the day, the graffiti will be gone and the walls will be cleaner than they were before. I don't worry about the building. I worry about the human being(s) that feels such anger at God and other people that they decided to do this in the first place. While I know that they will probably not read this post, I want them to know a few things this morning.
"First, Jesus loves you. I know this sounds cliché, but it is really important that you know that fact. The good news of the Jesus movement is that at the heart of our story is the radical love of God for His creation, including people who write nasty things on church buildings. I know you are angry and I can only assume you have heard some false things about who God is and what God thinks about you. So, I want you [to] know, more than anything else, that Jesus is pulling for you. God loves you, even if you think God is dead.
"Second, I love you. The First Baptist Church of Augusta loves you. People make mistakes. God knows I do every single day. We have committed our lives to following the Crucified and Resurrected Christ, Who has shown us the way of grace and forgiveness. He modeled for us the way of Love. So, on this day, we give that grace and love to you. No harm, no foul. I know you think we are part of the problem, but if you are willing to sit down and share a meal with us, I promise you will see us in a different light.
"Again, I know you probably won't read this post, but if you do I would love to meet you. I would love to hear your story and share a meal at the table. I have this strange feeling that you might change your mind about Jesus and His people. Who knows, you might even decide to follow Him yourself.
Much Love, Will"
According to the WRDW article, Pastor Dyer said a police report will be filed, however, the church "will absolutely not press charges." Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here