Okay. Next step… Where does the playbook (see previous post) say we should draw the aforementioned ‘battle lines’ when engaging our world as Christians? Great question.
I’ve come up with some broad categories. And some of the “fights” we pick fall under more than one of those categories, so I had to (arbitrarily, at times) simply pick one. With that in mind, here are some of the ‘official battle lines’ from our usual tactics and methods for engaging our culture.
Straight from the playbook…
As I write this (January 2011), the Christmas season can still be seen in the rearview mirror. So how do we engage our culture? Yes, there were no end of Christmas musicals, cantatas, and children’s choir shows. But those are usually held inside of our church buildings and sanctuaries. So we may do a lot of awesome stuff for our church family and those who already believe as we do, but a big portion of our energy and effort, it seems, is directed at our surrounding community’s actions.
We want to ensure that we hear “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” Or that it’s labeled a Christmas tree instead of a “Holiday” tree. Or worrying whether that Nativity Scene is on public or private land. On and on and on.
But lest we think that the way we act at Christmas is a special case… Consider some other holidays.
What does the American Church do at Halloween? Let me start by stating that there isn’t a single thing wrong with providing family-centered activities as an alternative to mischief and misdemeanors. But I’ve also seen fall festivals and the like be back-loaded with “Christian” haunted houses and lots of dogma about the Satanic dangers of dressing like Dracula, Frankenstein, and Spongebob. This year I even saw ads for us to begin celebrating something called “Jesus-ween.” Seriously. It seems we are, in fact, no longer able to simply engage and celebrate with other people. We have to make up our own super-lame holiday, instead. Sheesh.
And it continues. Easter? Yes, the Easter Bunny is silly, childish and incredibly lame. And I never really bought into him and his silly games. (And that fake grass stuff… What the heck is that all about?)
The whole “guy coming back from the dead” part of Easter was always WAY cooler to me. This always weirded me out a bit because growing up at my house, we seemed to be far more interested in the bunny stuff and taking pictures of ourselves wearing our new Sunday clothes. Talking about how a man who had been dead for 3 days could walk out of a tomb (and what it all meant) was never really something we talked about.
Which, I suppose, makes a compelling argument for how we should make a big point about ditching the “secular” baggage surrounding these holidays that, at least in theory, have a deep spiritual component. The problem here, though, is that the plays in our playbook… our “usual tactics and methods”… don’t help much at Easter. Why?
It tends to be confrontational. It also contains sermons about how pagan fertility rites, and the presence of that bunny somehow threatens to overwrite or even override our celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
Seems to me that God (and his resurrection power!) can stand on his own. If we would only demonstrate his love and walk in Christ’s anointing more often instead of simply decrying the celebrations (Santa, Dracula, the Easter Bunny) that happen in its absence…
Analogy: You’re standing in front of a grill. All of the people around you are eating hot dogs. And you, for whatever reason, would rather they ate hamburgers instead. It’s as if we’re all standing at this hypothetical grill which is warmed up and ready to cook, spending most of our time screaming about the evils of hot dogs instead of simply serving up some delicious hamburgers and changing everyone’s mind about what they choose to eat.
Our playbook for holidays in general seems to be full of “confront and/or provide preachy alternatives” instead of “demonstrate the love of Christ whenever possible.”
Agree? Or disagree?