Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Week . . . . Holy Crap. . . . .

And so begins our celebration and somber yet joy-filled remembrance of the Passion of Christ. Tonight, the Upper Room. Tomorrow, the Cross. Saturday, the closed tomb. And Sunday, the open and empty tomb. Redemption accomplished. Yet, what difference does it make in our lives? And what difference does a watching world see when they look at us?

I think these are questions we need to ask. . . and ask continually. Are our lives and ministry efforts accurate, excellent, and biblically faithful representations of the King and the Cross, or are they subpar, shallow, and inaccurate renderings that we accept and promote because they are "Christian?" Just because God takes me in my crappy brokenness and makes me whole, does that mean I can turn around to create and distribute a lifestyle and accoutrements that are offensive, laughable, and. . . crappy?

You may be wondering what sparked these thoughts on my part. It was the merging of what we celebrate this week and a Facebook message from my friend Chuck Holt. Chuck asked me if I had seen or heard of the new film project, Jesus People. I hadn't. But once I went to the site I was stuck. I got hooked on the series of webisodes that are designed to whet the appetite for the movie.

I want to encourage you to watch at least the first webisode. Then, I'm wondering. . . . Did you laugh? Did you cry? What made you laugh? What made you cry? Did you get angry? Who or what made you angry?



Want to know what I did? I laughed at the great humor and the dead-on caricature of the holy crap we think is so engaging to the watching world. My more negative emotions were directed towards those in the fold (myself included, I'm sure) who serve as models for the caricature artists who put this stuff together. I'd love to know what you think.

21 comments:

corinthian said...

Well done, Is the Hawaiian shirt a stab at Warren?

forsamo said...

hello! Can you check to make sure the video is working? For some reason, I get to watch the advertisement (woopee), but that's it. It doesn't give me anything else. It leads to the "Replay" option that I can click. I tried clicking that and it isn't loading. Maybe it's a broken link? Or my internet is acting up. Is anyone else having this issue? =\ I'd love to see the video. Thanks!

Dan said...

Wow. More heartbreaking than anything because of how true it is. Thanks for the post. A lot to think about

Larry said...

It reminds me of all the new surveys and polls and data streams like the book UNchristian accounts...They pretty much say confessing Christians make a lot of noise about faith and holiness or whatever... and their lives are entertaining for video clips like this but not of much shared spiritual value.

I find it depressing, embarrassing and real and unavoidable! Several options... #1 for me would be to take the Kierkegaard way out and say that no one except Christ is/was really a Christ-ian. #2 would be just to take a vow of silence for my remaining years, so people could only wonder if I might have been a "confessing Christian..."

Liz said...

Makes me think of the fear many Christians have of being honest. We have this amazing model (Jesus) to live up to and it's hard to admit we fall short. Hmmmm...wasn't that the whole point of the death and resurrection?

I have this fear! I don't find myself sharing the blatant lies that were in the video (much) but it's easy to omit details so that I seem to live up to the expectations of what the world thinks a Christian should be and do.

Sigh...thanks for this Walt (I think).

Anonymous said...

Um...I am a church worker and I shed a lot of tears this morning about an issue in my life. The tears fell for many reasons, but at the heart of it is feeling vulnerable and alone. I had these feelings even as pastoral arms were around me trying to convey the message that I'm not alone. Walls get built up and I think this is what I see in the video (watched this afternoon). I just keep thinking, "How did we get here?" When the message is to be one and support one another in the name of Christ...Satan has us fooled that we have to do it on our own. Walls. Appearances. Satan's tools.

But Christ reigns and is working to breaking them down.

I didn't laugh, but felt like I was supposed to do so. I was angry and annoyed at the characters...but it might have been projection of my own fears more than anything. I would like to see more and somehow use this to open some conversations here in my ministry.

mdivbound said...

ouch

Anonymous said...

Maybe I live on another planet, but I saw this as just another effort to find fault with anyone who calls themself a Christian, regardless. Christian artists are portrayed as negative, along with the "little blond girls in braces with scrunchies in their hair" who attend the concerts. People who pray are made to look hypocritical. This constant mocking of Christians offers up no solutions; just more of the negative "conversation" that people without Biblical answers spend time navel gazing in.
I am a recovered alcoholic through Christ, raised in an "uber-liberal" church. I've lived on both sides of the track. The most loving people I've ever known, and that were accepting of me in all my sin and dysfunction, have been born again Christians. It is those who DON'T believe in Christ that have judged me and excluded me and who don't want to hear about my, or anyone else's, past addiction. They want me to be this perfect person who they thought they knew before they found out I was an alcoholic.
I never have to hide my past addiction, or any other sin, in my church or Christian community. They know we're ALL sinners and we accept each other with much relief that we now have a place to go for support and encouragement and accountability. We don't have to pretend any longer, like we did in the secular world.
If it weren't for a Christian community that I physically moved into, a Biblically based church, and a Godly woman who mentored me and helped me to live my new life in recovery and with Christ, I would still be blind and living in addicition. The secular world did nothing to help me: I tried everything.
So-called Christians can sit around and criticize other Christians, the church, the pastor, the choir and the worship band all day long. But I believe this grieves God's heart to no end. I'm all for a real collaboration among the body of Christ in growing the body of Christ into spiritual maturity and reaching out. We're all works in progress. But this blatant Christian-bashing while offering up absolutely no Biblically-based solutions is getting very tiresome and cliche. The "conversation" is nauseating and incredibly self-indulgent--right along with the word "crap." That is not Godly language and the motivation for using it is to distance oneself from being a Christian, while still wanting to be a Christian. People who use that language want to think that somehow they're better than those non-cussing Christians over there. World-friendly, maybe, but not God pleasing and totally unnecessary. I've heard that same word used by a mature radio pastor who never used it until it became hip to do so.
Jesus said "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." Luke 9:26

Paul writes, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..." Romans 1:16

This video accomplishes nothing except to take time away from feeding the poor and reaching the lost for Christ.

Rachel P said...

For me, the biggest shock was going to the site and reading comments that "christian" people had left that only confirm the videos. People were condemning the makers of this film and webisodes to hell. My heart breaks for the watching world who now think that this is what God is like.

Mr. Roberts said...

It is difficult to watch this. Like most caricatures, it is over-generalized. This does not change the fact that this is how God and his children are perceived to the society around us. If what we did said as much or more than what we say, this picture would not exist. It is a bitter-sweet revelation.

square peg believer said...

I thought it was thought-provoking and definitely hit home. Obviously most Christians aren't necessarily lying, but I think we feel compelled to look right and say all the right things, whether or not we are "artists". Good stuff, Walt! Thx for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I feel the video is more of the same self absorbed hyper-criticism of the Church and fellow Christians and is not constructive, but divisive.

We should be encouraging one another - I know many Christians who are loving, caring, selfless, and in God's Word, earnestly trying to live a Christ-like life and quietly giving their time, talent and money driven by the Holy Spirit and what pleases God, NOT by what they look like and are perceived by men.What would Christianity look like if all Jesus cared about was how he appeared to the world?

The more we focus on what the world thinks of us the less we can focus on what the Lord thinks of us - we should be encouraging fellow Christians and focusing on reading and living God's Word to please Him- the rest will take care of itself.

We don't need a marketing campaign or hand wringing "conversation," but a recommitment by Christian leadership to rediscovering the beauty and simplicity of the Truth.

Nicholas Flatoff said...

How about a video about the 50,000 cans of food that were collected at an Evangelical church-supported Youth conference? In Chicago, I went to a conference called Dare to Share. They had us collect canned food, and 50,000 canned products were collected and given to the Salvation Army. Thay can't say that the church isn't doing anything. An how about using all the money and time they wasted on these films on feeding the pore and helping the homeless? This just doesnt make any sence to me.

Anonymous said...

What an eye opener! There's hypocrites in the Church!
I think we all know that and there is nothing new - see Paul's letters such as 1 Corinthians - hypocracy is as old as the church and it's simply because the church is filled with imperfect humans. The sad thing is this is being treated like some kind of suprise, which is a false humility and camoflauge for sideline sitter critics to lob pot shots at the church.

Dorina Brown said...

I thought it was hilarious.

And while no, I don't think non-Chrisitians will get it, there is a subtle message at the end that so many of those who have commented before are missing out.

The post before me which speaks of hypocricy is dead on accurate. But the message isn't that the people in the video are hypocrites. They are caricatures of Christians as a whole and thus, we as God's people are hypocrites when we do not live our lives authentically and with both truth and Truth. Without truth in our lives, we are the same as the rest of the world. And the point is, WE ARE! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. THAT MEANS CHRISTIANS TOO! Why do we always need to highlight our good, when we are broken? Why can we not embrace our past around other Christians, and be affirmed that God loves us unconditionally?

I haven't been to the website yet to see any of the comments or other videos, but to me, this was just a video that attempted to be a great use of irony to show that Christians ARE just like everyone else. We struggle with broken homes, single families (which include single dads - way to represent Video!), divorce, etc.

I know for one that if I ever met the praying dude in public, I'd kinda wanna hurt him a little. To me, he was the fakest of them all, unwilling to examine his own brokenness. And frankly, ridiculously annoying.

And in response to Mr. Roberts, this isn't just how non-Christians see us, this is how other Christians see Christians too. As a member of a liturgical church, (and in fairness, I do attend an Evangelical Seminary), this is often how I often imagine Evangelicals.

Y-LIFe said...

I laughed at some of the awkward moments, including the hasty jumps to prayer...

This video is sad to me...not because it was made but because it is spot on. The people who made this are obviously more than just a little familiar with the Christian subculture.

Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this is the great stereotype of Christians, or church embedded people, that the media (South Park, The Simpsons, etc) love to perpetuate because it does exist. It is funny and sad and, yes I too wanted to slap a few of the characters. I think Christ just shakes his head at our attempt to look and behave spiritually so as not to be rejected by those that should be inclusive. I think this format (The Office/Best In Show) could be used to dialog about what real faith looks like versus contrived faith or fear of rejection actions.

Anonymous said...

They make me laugh and cringe. Especially the first one. We are all guilty, we are all failures. We should stop trying to present ourselves as perfect, all it accomplishes is turning people away from Christianity and keeping ourselves closed off from true community. If the videos were ungrounded I could see getting mad about it, but they are dead on.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Unfortunately this is how the "un-churched" SEE the dedicated followers of Christ. this is an unfortunate sterotype. We need to do more witnessing to crush this view. We need to be out there, sharing, caring, welcoming others into our fold.

Barb Harwood said...

In the liberal Presbyterian Church that I attended until age 16, being a member of the church was like being a member of the Elks Club or Jaycee’s. Many members were professors at the liberal university in town, and others were downtown business owners. It was, indeed, more social club than church. However, today I do not consider the people in that church to have been true Christians: instead, they were primarily unregenerate church-goers. I, too, was not a Christian and never learned about Jesus Christ or the Word of God in that church.

I became a born again Christian at age 38 only because of other born again Christians accepting me in all my imperfection. I had finally found a people that didn’t pretend to be perfect, but who wore their sin on their sleeve, so to speak; not as a badge of honor, but as a reality of life. It was born again Christians who were open about their past lives and their current struggles with sin, making it safe for me to be open also. It didn’t matter if it was addiction, internet porn, gambling, yelling at their kids….the Christians I know and am learning from love everyone in humility and encourage accountability so that we can work on the areas of life we need to work on. At first, I couldn’t believe how safe everyone felt being completely and sincerely open and transparent! I became a Christian because these people were just like me: imperfect and rough around the edges from the daily living of life. And yet, they were so hopeful and constantly reaching out to others! They were and are living examples of Jesus’ power to overcome in their lives. In short, as a “seeker,” I wanted what these born again evangelicals had. And thanks to God working through them, I got it. Thank God I didn’t give up on Christianity simply because of that one church experience of my youth.

I don’t despise the church-goers in my previous church that I grew up in. Jesus doesn’t want us to despise people who are God’s creation to begin with. Who are we to sit around making snarky videos of Christians who don’t look like the emergent church, or who don’t live out their soap opera lives for all the world to see? I think the video posted here is actually expecting people to be perfectly imperfect in a way that not all Christians can be. My Christian mentor used to say that we can’t expect people to act like Christians when they’re not. Many of the people the video makes fun of may not be true born again Christians to begin with. So shouldn’t we instead be building relationships with these people so that we can share the Gospel with them? Who are we to judge where another Christian or church-goer is in their faith and then use that judgment to mock them in a video? What motivates more: dumping on folks or going out and living the faith, whether others are living it or not? Nobody’s holding a gun to any of our heads telling us we have to wait for others to be authentic before we can be. If we’re not authentic, we only have ourselves to blame. Be the one to go first: just start being authentic and see what happens. Reach out to someone with a hello and an introduction and a handshake. If your church ostracizes you for being open with your sin, find another church! It isn’t rocket science!!

As for worrying about how the “un-churched” see us, I think we need to be very careful. Look at how people perceived or “saw” Jesus! (and it wasn’t just the Pharisees, lest we focus on them alone). In Luke 22:17 Jesus says, “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” In John 15:18-19, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” And again, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you…” John 15:20. Many non-Christians will think we’re weird, judgmental, fundamental, dogmatic, exclusive, etc. no matter how “relational, real, relevant and missional” we try to look to them. The Bible predicts this. There are always going to be people who want to be in denial that Christians can ever be people of compassion and integrity, even with evidence to the contrary.

I think it’s counterintuitive to sit around making, watching and gleefully gloating over videos that seem to take pride in sticking it to people. The video I saw doesn’t speak for all Christians everywhere or even for a majority (maybe the videos speak for your church but they certainly don’t speak for the 3 churches of different denominations that I attend regularly and the churches of my friends. Nor does it speak for the Christian organizations I’m involved with such as Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief and Compassion International. But go ahead. Show the video in your church if you think it’ll do any good. Might want to check the motivation for showing it first, though). The folks who made this video obviously aren’t in my town every Monday night to see a community of Christians from area churches break bread with addicts and prisoners. And that’s just one example of one church of many in the world that are reaching out!!

Personally, if people are so concerned, I think it’s time they, as one commentator above so insightfully put it, stop taking “pot shots” at the church and instead go out and see what’s actually going on (in more than just one church). The Bible says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.

I suggest that people stop conforming to what they “imagine” or want to imagine the church to be and stop adopting the negative view of the church promoted on many websites and in many books. Of course there are a few bad eggs out there. I realize that. But let’s not allow that to lead us to poison minds against the brethren (Acts 14:2).

Instead, look around and take note of all the good that is going on in the world because of Christians. In fact, join with them! Look at all the outreach in times of disaster, the mentoring going on in prisons, the adoption agencies, etc. etc. Can more be done? Absolutely! But the Bible says not all will walk the narrow path of obeying Jesus and loving others. But WE can! We can walk the narrow path if we just get going! Turn off the DVD player, get off the snarky websites, stop the “conversation” and DO something!!!!! Not everyone’s going to join us, even after watching a video making fun of their very attitude. Stop focusing on THEM and focus instead on Jesus Christ. The churches I attend and those of my friends have gone first and are already doing this.

Will you go first in your church?

Anonymous said...

Barb Harwood - God bless you! I admit that I did chuckle at the video, but you have aided in my subsequent humility. Thank you. And I love the word 'snarky.' Thanks for that, too!

:)