and crappy values. Those’ll mess up a life big time. They’re all centered on a common yet seriously flawed goal: self.
In a book I’m currently reading the author points out something I hadn’t really given much thought to: self-examination. We are often told to do this and I think it’s wise or we may find ourselves in deception, but I see her point; too much of it and the focus becomes us, not Jesus.
Solomon more than anyone who ever lived knows the reason why. Flesh is inherently fundamentally flawed. So when you use flawed logic on a flawed creation the results will be skewed in the wrong direction. There’s a time for desert but there’s a time for spinach too. Feel-good-gospel never changed a heart. Not permanently. And I’m getting a little sick of sugar-coated Christianeese.
Case in point: I recently watched a movie that fell into what I’ve come to think of as the 3M category. Mixed Message Media. Ask in a comment and I’ll share the movie name but for now I’ll share a couple of things that added up to one big huge gigantic colossal fail in my book.
Exodus 12.38 says, ‘and a mixed multitude went up also with them…’ (emphasis mine). The Bible doesn’t explicitly say who the “mixed” were, per se, but since the Isaraelites were leaving Egypt it’s a pretty good guess they dragged a couple of neighbors along for the ride. In numbers 11 it says they ‘murmured’ quite a bit, so it’s logical to think that mixed multitude might not have been the best influence on God’s chosen people.
Back to the movie. It centers around a newly widowed ad exec and a dance teacher. The guy talks of what he considers a deeper faith, going from what he unabashedly calls Casual Christianity to someone who will pray at the drop of a hat. Something I have no problem with. But… he comes across as just plain weird. Unless you compare him to his coworkers – by that standard he’s almost normal. As for the dance instructor, she’s been hurt by life and wants nothing to do with Jesus, naturally, and finds this praying thing very strange indeed.
There were small things throughout the whole movie that niggled me. It wasn’t until the final dance scene and improbable ending that it became clear why.
I do realize the whole idea of a dance competition is to seduce on as many levels as possible – that’s what the world does best – but her dress, in the immortal words of Alfred P. Doolittle, “done me in.” I honestly have no words to describe my shock and revulsion. I’m not even sure how it stayed on, to be honest.
What bothered me most is that the protagonist, the (Christian) ad man, appeared to have no problem with it. Er, no. So not happening. For the rest of that scene I focused on heads and refused to look any lower. This was a huge issue for me. The other epic fail for me was that early in the movie it becomes clear the leading lady suffered from an eating disorder as a teen that made her infertile. Yet in the final scene she is married to the protagonist, holding a brand new baby.
There were sooo many mixed messages in this film I don’t even know where to start. As much as it grieved me deeply I realize it’s nothing more than a reflection of current culture. Like the Roman theology after conquering new territory: keep all your gods, just add ours too. Christians are supposed to be a counter-culture. Not a blend-right-in.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke once wrote, and I agree. But balance is needed in all things: when you completely rely on what Second Chronicles 32.8 so succinctly calls ‘the arm of the flesh’, again, you’re starting with a faulty foundation.
Mushy gushy will never cut it, but condemnation hardens the hearer’s heart. Correction is needed, but it must come from a motive of authentic love or it’s worthless.
Yes, faith without works doesn’t work and the opposite is also true, but if we leave one out we’ll have the wrong equation. We have to be Mary and Martha both, at different times in our lives. In my opinion we’re not doing that good of a job winning the lost to Christ, especially in our homeland, the land of the free and the home of the brave, because we’ve kept our God and added the world too. Seasons change and we never change the gospel, ever, but perhaps we can rethink our approach? Just a thought.
Kari, the balanced Mary Martha
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