Lifeway, The Blind Side, and what I don’t want to say
Late last week, Eric Metaxas and Rachel Held Evans both wrote about the decision Lifeway Christian Stores made to pull the movie, “The Blind Side” from their shelves. They removed the movie because it contains “explicit profanity, the use of God’s name in vain, and racial slurs.”
Before I say much else, I need to say that I don’t want to be critical. I don’t want to criticize Lifeway, Southern Baptists, or Christians in general. I am a Southern Baptist, have shopped at Lifeway, and dislike writers who are always disagreeable. But at some point, some of us have to speak up against the ridiculousness in the the SBC and North American Christendom at large. There is a reason people think we’re irrelevant and it has nothing to do with in Jesus.
Christians act as if we have the right to live in a society where our “Christian” sensibilities are never offended. We want the world to be beautified, anesthetized, and purified before we step foot into it. Instead of facing the ugliness we see and sharing the best news of humankind, we create impenetrable fortresses for ourselves where the dark cannot get in and the light cannot escape. We don’t realize how bad life really is for many because we’ve insulated ourselves from it.
If Jesus acted like many of us, he would have stayed in heaven.
But he didn’t. The Jesus I follow ate dinner with sinners, visited their homes, and had personal conversations with prostitutes. I doubt He scowled every time he heard profanity, or left a conversation because of a coarse joke, or avoided places that were ‘worldly.’
His relationship with sinners is what religious people hated most about him.
God admonishes us to keep ourselves unspoiled from the world, to have pure hearts and pure thoughts and clean minds. We are to think good and not ill. We are to meditate on the pure and not profane. But we have come to believe that being unspoiled from the world and being untouched by it are the same thing. We have prohibited stories of the dark in all its horror and hidden the beauty of the light so it can no longer be seen.
A week before he was murdered, Jesus approached a city he desperately loved. When he saw their sin and unbelief, he didn’t rail. He didn’t rally. He didn’t protest. He wept. Shouldn’t this be our response as well?
For my Christian friends, I issue a challenge. The next time you want to complain about the movie for sale at the Christian bookstore, or picket the parade downtown, or give money to a politically motivated parachurch organization, ask yourself, “When was the last time I wept over this?”
Because when we’re heartbroken over the pain around us, we’ll do something about it — but it won’t be from a distance. It won’t be with angry shouts and clever sayings written in Sharpie on poster board. It won’t be a political gesture at a denominational meeting where we can walk away and declare victory.
It will be real, and close, and personal. It will require pain and sacrifice and exposure to ugly things we’d rather not see. We will be privy to conversations we’d rather not hear. We will see things we wish didn’t exist. We’ll have to trade a mask of Christian idealism for the blemished face of a fallen world.
And maybe then, people will really see Jesus.