Yesterday, this video made itself a nuisance on the internet. It was popping up all over Facebook and blogs, with associating comments saying things like “Yes!” “Wow. So good.” “Amen.” and “Truth!” With such ringing endorsements from my friends, I of course watched it… but was surprised by my own reaction. I didn’t like it. I was actually kind of angry about it, and I couldn’t figure out why.
After all, my very own church recently did a message series called “Jesus hates religion”, which I thought was hard-hitting and a good reality check for my wanna-be pious heart. I know that Jesus knocked heads with religious hypocrites in his day, and I know that we still struggle with hypocrisy in the church, because it’s still filled with people, dangit. So, what was this guy saying that made me so upset? Well, why don’t you watch it for yourself, if you haven’t seen it already (apparently bashing Christians from the inside is a lucrative business, as this guy is taking the internet by storm):
Oddly enough, despite the assertion that this video is ground-breaking and super ballsy and honest, I have yet to see anyone disagree with it. Out of the the million people who I’ve seen post and talk about it over the last 24 hours nobody has yet to ask any questions about it, disagree with it in even a minor way, or take any amount of offense to its supposedly courageous, outside-the-box perspective. In fact, everyone, even people who have been religiously (pardon the pun) bashing Tim Tebow have been saying how awesome, true, ground-breaking and courageous this video is.
I don’t disagree with everything the video says, but I do have to question the motives of such a message. In the first place I don’t think we accomplish much by ganging up on people or asking questions without offering answers. It’s why Conspiracy Theorists are the most frustrating people in the world to have a debate with, because they rebut your fact-based arguments with “I don’t know”. Such blatant disregard for the facts, wild accusations toward large swaths of people and more division than unity might be cool, but it’s certainly not constructive.
To be honest, I don’t like religion all that much either, but not because religion is filled with bigots, haters and *gasp!* Republicans, but because it requires me to get my butt out of bed on Sunday mornings, to live out what I believe and to take the person of Jesus much more seriously than I ever could on my own, (even if I was standing in a trendy brick courtyard talking about how Christians are Jerks). Because even though it’s true that Jesus wasn’t a Republican, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a Democrat either, something no spoken word artist would dare admit. The thing is, even though our inclination is to cheer for this “brave” soul, standing up against all those meanies who want to make us fit into a certain mold in order to follow Christ, we now have made our own mold – one shaped like church in a coffee shop or spoken word instead of “Our God is an Awesome God” or left-wing social justice over right-wing conservatism, and we haven’t really solved anything.
I don’t understand why the grace of God means that we must make people trying to live well in that grace feel bad for sticking to their precepts. Therein lies our dichotomy, right? Because, as Paul says in Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” So I’m sorry if a group of people in pews make some people uncomfortable, but I’m going to extend that same grace and assume that they are simply trying to take Jesus at His word, by doing their best to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God.
We build big churches, yes. Not so that we can shirk our duty in helping those in need, (it’s very convenient that we forget that the Salvation Army, Red Cross, World Vision, Compassion International, Yale, Harvard and countless other organizations for the betterment of society were created by Christians. Pay no attention to the good Christians behind the curtain!) but so that we may be a welcoming place to a hurting world. Because, poverty is not only material, my friends. Even here in beautiful Orange County, land of the billionaires and botox, there are so many people who are in need of Jesus just as much as those on Skid Row. Are their souls worth less because their possessions are worth more? What kind of Earthly gospel are we preaching, if we live out the opposite of James’ parable of the rich and poor man? (James 2:1-6)
We can’t win any wars, forming a circular firing squad in this way. Nothing is solved by making broad strokes about millions of people, declaring that big churches don’t care about the poor, church people hate single moms and that Christians only care about appearances, and cowardly hiding behind saying: “I’m not judging”. The irony is that Christians are one of the most maligned and attacked groups in America today, and yet nobody seems to care. We’re all eager to point the finger at each other, turn up our noses at the flannel-graphs and hard oak pews of yesteryear and ignore the fact that while we gang up on church precepts and well-meaning, hard-working Christians, our real enemy is prowling like a roaring lion – and we are already being devoured. (1 Peter 5:8)
(I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Did you already share this video on Facebook? Do you love spoken word? Are you all about motorcycle jackets or mean religious types?)