Catchin’ Heat

It seems that I’m not the only one that’s had an opinion about the
recent “Dobson vs. Spongebob” conversation.  Here are a few links
to other discussions:

Jordon Cooper
Ed at OurHangout

Michael Main
Church Marketing Sucks
Robot Johnny
Dash House
Patrick at Diggin’ Around My Cranium
e-church

Here’s what I’ve noticed now that I’ve had time to think about the whole thing.  We (Christians) must look pretty silly to an outside world! 
First, we (one of our “leaders”) make the news by starting a speech
addressed to a Presidential audience with “Does anybody here know
Spongebob?”  Then we (some of us) make fun of the one that opened
his big mouth and inserted a wing-tip.  Then we (those that revere this leader) attack
those that had either a sense of humor or a sense that something just
wasn’t right about the whole thing.  Then we (all parties
involved) use words like “liberal” and “fundamentalist” (as well as
“pagan” and “wacko” to name a few others) to make sure that the lines
that have been drawn are crystal clear to anyone who wants to look in
and wonder “Where’s Jesus in this mix?”

It seems as if we haven’t evolved much (and no, I’m not pushing the
evolution agenda!).  In our search for “truth” we’ve been duped
into believing that we’ve cornered the market on being right.  As
if being right is the point in the first place!  It reminds me of
the part of the Story where Jesus gets to talk with a “seeker” and
steers her past this whole right vs. wrong argument:

“Jesus, I was always
taught to act this way and seek God in these ways and in this place,
but the folks you hang around with keep telling me that I’m wrong for
doing it the way we’ve always done it. Who’s right here?”

Jesus responds, “Child, ‘right and wrong’ aren’t the point anymore.
There’s been too much of THAT kind of argument for years now. Now the
time has come to be united as I have come to unite all believers.
Following me is the point…not the details of how you follow.”

“I’ve heard about this kind of teaching and about Messiah who is coming. Maybe when he gets here he can figure out who’s right.”

“My little one, I’m the One you’re looking for…let all of that other stuff go.” 
(John 4 — Paraphrased BIG TIME)

So here’s what I’m thinking:

1. I think deconstruction is necessary.  We’ve got to be willing
(and able) to challenge the status quo as we (collectively)
try to follow Jesus.  Too many modern Christians are living on the
fumes of faith from the generations that have gone before (or from the religious establishment of modernity).  “We’ve
always done it this way!” is our motto.  When someone questions
whether one of our assumptions is fallible, we react quickly and harshly
without necessarily thinking through the question. 

It’s not a new process.  Jesus dealt with the fall-out when he challenged
the religious system of the day.  Paul had to catch a little heat
as he expanded the Church’s understanding of grace.  Others like Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Dr. King had to face their own
critics as they challenged us to follow, really follow, Jesus. 
But each one did their part to expand our understanding and experience
of God here in this mess we call life.

2. I think our words matter.  We get so caught up in defending our
territory that we let words fly easily.  Words like “liberal” or
“right-winger” are fun to use at times but they’re often meant to draw blood. 
And it’s not only the participants in the conversation that get hurt. 
We’re a house divided at this point and nobody that’s on the outside
looking in will see anything that even resembles “foot washing” or
“loving your neighbor.” 

3. I think change begins with me. 
We (on both sides of the
conversation) get so caught up in controlling or deconstructing or
whatever that our focus is diverted.  Jesus didn’t spend a great
deal of time trying to gain an audience and prove that he was
right.  He didn’t rally the troops to march on Rome.  He
didn’t run over or back down from the religious establishment.  He
did use his spit to heal a blind man, his hug to heal a leper, and his
tears to show how much he cared for a dear friend.  He got right
in the middle of our junk and washed feet, kissed dirty kids, and
breathed life into our death.  Our “social agenda” doesn’t speak
much about that.  Our voting record, T.V. viewing habits,
behavioral conformity, or group loyalty won’t be called into question
when we sit down with Him…he’ll be asking about those
“cup-of-cold-water-days” that we missed while we were arguing (about a
cartoon…and other lunacy).

With that being said, I know some people are wondering, “Who’s he
agreeing with?”  Well, I’ve already made my bed so I guess I’ll
have to lie in it.  These words aren’t an attempt  to agree
or disagree with anyone (although, to those mentioned above…I enjoyed
the conversation).  My goal today is the same as it was
yesterday…to see more of God’s Kingdom realized here in this place at
this time in history.  I don’t think that includes living life on
the “wings” or fussing over petty (or spongy) issues.  I don’t
think that includes attacking or pushing a social agenda.  I don’t
think that includes drawing lines in the sand and using colorful words.

What I do believe is that our words and actions on this planet have
great impact on those that Jesus misses the most.  If we really
believe that these “lost ones” matter, we’ll set the tables in the
banquet room and invite all people to the feast — whether it sounds
too much like tolerance or not or whether we agree politically or
not.  Then we’ll grab a towel, some water, and maybe a SPONGE and
start washing feet.  Beginning with the least of these!

Maranatha!  Get us out of this mess!

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~ by Chris Green on January 26, 2005.

4 Responses to “Catchin’ Heat”

  1. I didn’t hear the original speech but here is what they have to say at Focus on the Family.http://www.family.org/cforum/feature/a0035309.cfm

  2. Love your conclusion. Unfortunately most people are still caught up at…”did you really question Dr. Dobson? What? Really? How dare…lost among the trees looking for the forest.I know that sounds judgemental. And it doesn’t help the discussion…but sometimes it’s hard to carry on a conversation when people are hung up on the side issues. I’m guilty, I know I probably do it too. Try not to.Unfortunately it seems that certain people in Christendom are just elevated to a certain level that to question whether one of their actions was really helpful to the Kingdom or not is to question God.I’m sounding to much me and them, I need a coffee.Appreciated your post and especially the conclusion…That’s what it’s all about!!!

  3. “sometimes it’s hard to carry on a conversation when people are hung up on the side issues” DON’T I KNOW IT!!Good thoughts, Ed. Enjoyed your post, too!

  4. Too cool! Bob the Tomato speaks (thru Phil Vischer, of course). My favorite part of the article was this:”To be honest, I’m really not sure what we’re trying to accomplish here. I find somewhat baffling the great shock we evangelicals register when we catch the world acting, well, “worldly.” I mean, isn’t that kind of the point? They’re the “world,” right? When you start with the assumption that the world is fallen, you’re much less likely to be disappointed when you find it actually to be the case.As for me, I’m anxiously awaiting the day the world registers great shock at the sight of Christians acting “Christianly.””For the rest of the article go here:http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/104/32.0.html

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