One of my students challenged me this week. He wanted to know why I thought that seeing movies about real-life events, specifically the civil rights movement, mattered.
‘Why do you care? What difference does that have to me?’ he asked.
I’ll admit: I was shocked. But the thing is, I shouldn’t be surprised. We have an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude; we assume that everything that exists was just so when we arrived.
The civil rights movement matters because it’s about progress, about change, about people being treated correctly. And it’s ongoing. But to someone like my student, the world works for him so why should it matter how it got there?
Unfortunately, I think there are more and more people looking around the world who don’t see the church as relevant either. Sure, the people can see the suffering in the world, but they don’t think that Christians are doing anything to make a difference. They only see the world that says it’s against this or that, rather than acknowledging what the church is for. What do we do when the world around us only evaluates church as it appears today, not in the way it was once understood to matter, not in the position it once occupied in society?
Christians are not making news because of the good we spread. We’re not making ourselves (broadly speaking) relevant in the world today, even as people see suffering around them.
[Some of you are nodding – don’t let your heads pop off!]
Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. So here goes…
When we fail to see that every life matters, whether it’s an aborted baby, a convicted murderer, a black or white life, or someone who is gay, straight, or transgendered, we’ve failed to be Jesus.
When we think we’re persecuted because we’re jailed for not doing our elected job, and instead hold back our responsibilities instead of choosing to step aside or consider a positive witness, we’ve failed to be Jesus.
When we ridicule the beliefs of others or fail to consider someone else’s worldview, and think we’re smartest because of what we believe, we’ve failed to be Jesus.
When we find comfort in someone else making mistakes, getting caught, or being ‘outed’ on television for their addiction or other sins, we’ve failed to be Jesus.
Personally, I’d like to believe that Jesus was funny, mike-dropping, passionate, courageous, compassionate, articulate, and open-minded. To those of you who think I’ve lost my moral compass: yes, I have non-negotiables.
I believe he was fully God and fully man, that he died on the cross for my sins, and that because of those previous things, I am forgiven of my sins by faith. They might be different (or fewer) non-negotiables than yours, but I’m a simple guy.
In the end, I believe Christians are called to live out their faith boldly, but let’s consider how we do that. Let’s be bold in our grace, our love, and our service. As a friend pointed out to me this week, when someone asks something of us that challenges us, let’s give them two. Let’s be so fundamentally, mindblowingly (I made that up) grace-filled that we are the new relevant.
Let’s be the followers of Jesus- and stop letting someone else say who we are.