What Would Jesus Blog?

Tag: Film

Life is a dancefloor…

by on Jan.07, 2009, under What Would Jesus Blog?

Or rather, the life of the people of God is much like a Shakespearean play – at least in one of the illustrations I’ve used in this essay I’m working on. I have no idea who first introduced me to this idea but I absolutely love it and I think it fits really well.

Think of the life of the people of God as if it were a Shakespearean play that is missing its fourth act, and we are filling in the gaps with our very existence. The first three acts are known – the characters are laid down, there’s more than enough in the Bible and in the testimony of literally millions of Christians over the years to have a good idea of who God is and how he reacts when his people do all kinds of horrible stuff against him, and good stuff for him. The final act is known – although not all New Testament eschatological writing is about the apocalypse by any means – and we know how it ends, new heaven and new earth and all that.

So what does this mean? Instead of rulebooks and lists of dos and don’ts (which many of today’s churches often make implicit rather than explicit – I hate it!) we need to put ourselves, both individually and corporately, in the place of an actor playing the part of the Christian in that fourth act. Does what we do line up with what God has praised in the past? Are we the people God wants us to be? Of course not – but the closer we get to God, the more we know and love Him, the more natural playing his supporting cast becomes. This isn’t a new idea at all – but one that we need to consider before we go on our next witch-hunt.

Incidentally, I went to see Yes Man with Mike the other day – it’s a great film, very funny but there’s one scene a few minutes in that I think really sums up the approach to evangelism that far too many churches take – Jim Carey’s character gets converted to this life-changing ethos by being publically humiiated, shouted down and pressured into accepting, but then doesn’t have the understanding of the concepts required to live it properly. I just can’t help but think of seeing people give their lives to Christ at rallies and the like and the church not being ready to disciple them properly – and comparing their testimony to that of people who got in with groups of Christians and over time saw a difference in them, and then accepted it for themselves. No judgement here on which is better – both bring people to Christ so both are good but I think they present different challenges that churches just aren’t ready for.

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Full Metal Jacket

by on Dec.03, 2008, under What Would Jesus Blog?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love Full Metal Jacket. It’s (for me at least) Kubrick’s finest work and it’s just so refreshing to see a film that has no happy ending, that doesn’t end happily ever after and is just so meticulously constructed that you can’t help but marvel. There aren’t many films that I can watch as many times as I’ve watched FMJ – if I had the cash I’d probably have the collector’s edition box set by now. Real life doesn’t end happily ever after, most of the time (eschatology aside) and it’s fantastic to watch a film that acknowledges that.

It’s where The Matrix Trilogy let me down. The first film was great – the second two were interesting but they left too much unexplained and yet explained away too much too easily. Honestly, I wanted to the trilogy to end with the destruction of Zion, the recreation of The One and it could be a fantastic example of how institutions can create diversions that avoid real change. If your boss shouts at you for being 5 minutes late in for work, for not putting the new header sheets on your TPS reports and asks you to work every Saturday, you get mad at him for that, and don’t spend your time getting mad about the wider injustice in the company, how it’s headed for moral bankruptcy or how just how meaningless your job really is – this makes you a more productive employee because your boss (usually subconciously) has controlled your anger.

The church does exactly the same thing – people come up with entirely new ways of doing church and feel that they need funding (sometimes true, although often a myth perpetuated by the institution), so they turn to the churches who welcome them, provide for them, nurture them…and leave them in the corner as a Fresh Expression to be looked at and referenced ad nauseum at Synod. Don’t hear what I’m not saying – I’m not saying that all Fresh Expressions are wastes of time, that we shouldn’t explore new ways of being church or that everyone in the church behaves like this. It’s really not the people – it’s the institution that we’ve inherited. So if you’ve got a great idea about church, pray about it and consider carefully how you should proceed – if you need a church to back you then that’s fine, but often you don’t so don’t be afraid to go for it with your two or three gathered. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll show the institutions that God works outside of their walls – and that they could learn some lessons from the ecclesiological equivalent of the little children….

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