And they’ll know we are Christians by our picket signs…
It’s a sad state of affairs these days. When Christians are portrayed on the news or in films, they are often standing outside some event with signs declaring hell fire and sulfur for any who seem to be having any sort of fun. While it is true that the Bible puts some guardrails around our lives, and even places big “DO NOT GO HERE” signs every so often, Christianity is, at its core, a belief IN something.
John 13:35 tells us that Jesus told his followers, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples: if you have love for one another.” Yet, if you ask someone today what defines a Christian, it will often be answered with “Someone who doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t dance, doesn’t have sex, doesn’t have any fun. Oh, and is a hypocrite.” Not exactly what Jesus had in mind.
I’m not here to tell you how to interpret the Bible. There are things I avoid that I know other Christians do not, and there are things I’m fine with in my life that others would stay clear from. So, if not smoking, drinking, or dancing are part of your spirituality, awesome. If you do smoke, drink, dance, and love Jesus, also awesome. But can we stop getting so loud about it?
When the Noah film came out, there were Christian groups lining up to not only NOT see the film, but to officially NOT see the film, and to tell everyone else to NOT see the film. Last time I read through my Bible, I did not see any prohibitions against seeing a film that disagrees with God. I would wager that most of the people who wanted to see the film probably went anyway, whether they were Christian or not. And those who were not part of the Christian conversation only saw that some Christians were opposed to the film (probably because it was fun, or something), and some were not. In this rapidly decaying world of hyper-individualism, we need more instances of unity, not discord.
Maybe we should spend more time actually being the church. We were once known for our hospitality and our willingness to serve others, even at the cost of our own lives. The Roman empire was converted on the strength of those selfless souls who gave simple medical care to people with the plague, whether the afflicted were Christian or not. We were known as followers of The Way. Now, we’re the followers of the No Way.
This is especially important when dealing with art. Artists push boundaries. We explore the aspects of our lives that others would rather keep hidden. We start conversations that are uncomfortable. If our brothers and sisters start boycotting because they don’t like our questions, then we can’t live out our God-given calling. Sometimes we WILL ask the wrong questions, or push things too far. But we need love then, too.
The arts and Christianity split because of this issue. Christians are still wary of artists, and artists still feel confined by Christians. Let’s work to have conversations, not protests.
As a final note, I’m aware of the irony of this message: writing to tell people not to tell people what not to do. But, there you have it. Just my thoughts.