Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Doesn't My Pastor Have Anything Good to Say?

A few years ago, I got into a discuss about church with a relative who used to be heavily involved in church until she was involved in some sort of shady scandal that she never really explained. She never returned to church, and one day I asked her why; unlike many people I've asked this same exact question to and been given the typical "I'm spiritual but not religious" kind of answer, she said bluntly: preachers do nothing but preach.

She has never been in intriguing person, and I don't believe she said the comment to be even mildly intriguing, but I was nonetheless left intrigued. I pondered the question sometime, because, despite her lack of devotion to church, she made a good point about church: preachers sometimes, in their sincere attempt to get people to improve their lives, have a tendency to give sermons that outline the bad in life over the good.

The word preacher, oddly enough, has almost negative stigma to it today; people don't want to be preached at because that implies they're being disciplined. In this respect my relative was surprisingly right; I couldn't agree more about not wanting to go to a place that disciplines me.

I remember when the movie the Passion of the Christ came out, I was guilted into seeing it like every other Christian in the country. As Jim Caviezel had the snot beat out of him, all I could think was how late does Krispy Kreme stay open, because I could really go for a donut right now. I was secure enough in my faith that I didn't need to see some guy being beaten so I could somehow become a better Christian. I figured everyone else in the theater felt the same way until a woman behind me started wailing; and by wailing, I mean she let out the most painful cries I have heard in my life. Soon people began to do what I only imagined was talking in tongues and saying "Praise Jesus!" whenever Caviezel took a lashing. I just didn't get it; I couldn't realize how people could possibly feel better about things by watching this movie.

The whole movie I kept saying to myself, "well, at least it will have a happy ending" and then the ending came, and it only sort of implied that Jim Caviezel rose from the dead—so not only did I not have my Krispy Kreme donut, I was downright depressed. For weeks, I heard ministers saying take your non-Christian friends to see it, so they can see the good news of God—they acted like never before had there been a movie that preached the good news in such a way; I couldn't agree more, but I didn't see that as a good thing.

The next year during Easter, my Grandma came over, and she insisted we watch the film again as a family, so we could experience the cruel torture of Jim Caviezel together. What better way to celebrate Jesus raising from the dead, then to watch a movie that only vaguely references the fact that he did. I think she also hoped that my cousin would convert after seeing the movie. He of course didn't. Honestly, I think a more evangelical choice, if that was indeed what my Grandma was going for, would have been a Charlie Brown Easter.

Preacher, preaching, preach (however you want to use the word), however, was never meant to be used negatively; it was used to represent a person who tells people about the good news of the gospel. Not that we are living a life of sin and we need to change things around, but that God sent his son to die for us.

Church is not supposed to be a place for condemnation, rather it's supposed to be a place where we experience God; where a person tells us what the Bible says, and the message inspires us to feel God's presence. If that's not what church is for you, then perhaps it is time to move on.

1 comment:

  1. To me, the most compelling scene in "The Passion" is a flashback where Jesus playfully splashes water in Mother Mary's face. It showed Jesus' humanness.