Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christian vs Christ-follower

Picked up from Reformed Chicks Blabbing, this video and the others in the series trigger mixed emotions. Not much of a bumper sticker sort of Christian, I giggled over “Christian’s” collection which he kept in his coat.

The other videos poke fun at the need of some Christians to wear Christian paraphenalia such as WWJD bracelets. Yet the need of people to self-identify in our culture is hardly confined to a certain segment of Christians. People routinely align themselves with favorite sports teams via sweatshirts, t-shirts, jackets, and hats. Others pay for the privilege of advertising their favorite designers such as Abercrombie and Fitch. I'm not sure why Christians who wear bracelets or t-shirts are any funnier than the rest of the population, even though I personally have never been much for clothing with words and the like.

One clip pokes fun of the Sunday best idea, a throw-back to an earlier time, still in vogue at some churches. Long ago, people were lucky to have two sets of clothes. One was everyday wear and the other was for Sunday and special occasions. Sunday was a special day when one was freed from work and had an opportunity to worship and to see his neighbors and friends. Frequently, church and the fellowship afterwards was an all day affair. A few decades ago, not many would have gone to the grocery store or a movie without suit, if male, or dress, heels, and pearls, if female, let alone show up to church in jeans. Times have changed. I never did get the whole dressing up on Sunday thing. But then again, I don't get why I need to get dressed up for work either. But that's me.

What bothered me most about the video above was the slight mockery of "Christian" who apparently reads a lot. It also makes a point of cracking on the King James. I gave up on the King James version long ago, although I must say it was quite fortunate for me to be familiar with the language when Shakespeare was passed out in school. However, being a bibliophile, I wondered how “Christ-follower” could follow Christ if he never picked up a Bible to see what exactly the Master and His prophets had written for him to follow.

In this clip we see two extremes portrayed. On the one hand, there are Christians who seem to stray from the simplicity of Christ and from the beauty of the central message of the gospel in favor of a sort of head knowledge—knowing about Christ rather than knowing Him. On the other hand, we see a proto-type of a Christian who apparently reads and studies nothing. One has to wonder if such souls know exactly what it is that they believe. How can one denigrate the written word when God chose to communicate to us largely through that medium?

Intense study and abiding confident faith need not be juxtaposed. I recall that many years ago a brilliant theologian and scholar was asked what was the most significant and deepest truth he had learned over his many years of study. Without hesitating, he replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Clearly, this was a man who hadn’t lost the childlike wonder in the piles of books and research.

Let’s not forget that the Bereans were praised for their noble character because they were willing to study the Scriptures to verify the truth of Paul’s message. (Acts 17) Let’s not forget that although the Ephesians were corrected because they had fallen away from their fervent first love of the Savior, they were first commended for their service and doctrinal maturity which allowed them to spot a false apostle a mile away. Let’s not forget that Paul’s second epistle to Timothy encourages believers to study and to be able to handle the Word skillfully.

I think this spoof shows two extreme caricatures—all mind or all heart. But then we are creatures given to extremes. How do we love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves? How do we become more deeply grounded in truth, no longer filling our souls with the mere milk of the Word but with the meat of it also without losing the wonder of young faith as we grow into "adulthood"?

The video-taped skit failed to answer those questions and made those who would study look nerdy and silly and legalistic. Kind of reminds me of the current attitude in many of our public schools. Maybe in that respect the clip is revealing something rather different than its intent--a conformity to the world and our surrounding culture rather than a freedom from it. Just sayin'.

The other videos can be found here, here and here.


At 12/13/2006 9:02 AM, Blogger Paul Smith Jr. said...

So often in Christianity, the response is the middle way. Not too strict, not too lenient. Not too harsh, not too permissive. We must live in the world, but not of it. We have to be aware of what's going on in the world in order to evangelize it. We can't reach others if we can't speak the same language as them. That's true on both a literal and a metaphorical level.


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