Stuff Christians Like: The Soloist

I love sites like this. It’s always entertaining to get a humorous perspective of something when you live so closely to it that you’re often blind to the parts of it that are, to be blunt, pretty silly. It’s no mystery that the modern Christian is quickly becoming defined by fashion statements, coffee shop attendance, and entertainment choices. I especially love the one about Leading Worship Barefoot. We LOVE to be comfortable on stage and create a non-threatening atmosphere for those who come to worship with us! ;)

And I only bring this website up to familiarize the concept a bit. I frequently think like this. Just by nature, I’m a bit of an observer. I never hesitate to point out something that seems odd, or to ask why if I don’t understand. I need more than two hands to count the times I’ve offended someone by challenging something near and dear to their hearts just because, quite frankly, I never saw the connection between their faith and the subject of said offensive question (eg: removing hats for prayer, using ‘soft’ swear words).

Last night my roommate and I were watching The Soloist. And I’m going to bold this sentence because it’s important: I’m NOT speaking out against The Soloist, or any movie that would fall into the same general category. I swear, if anyone sends me an email or responds to this with some dimwitted comment about how I missed the point of the movie, he or she will be met with a swift reply about something in which he or she also missed the point. ;)

The movie had a good message. In all honesty, I liked what the director said in the preface more than the movie itself. Homeless people ARE our brothers and sisters, and often times, treating them like human beings might be more helpful than apologizing for not having any spare change. But that’s the moment that hit me: This is something Christian culture loves.

We love movies with wholesome messages. We love songs with motivational and encouraging lyrics. We love any and all media that encourages a humanitarian reform in our lives.

Ready for the kick in the crotch? Here it comes…

Why does it end there?

Why do get so swept up by movies that call us out on crap that we do that is actively damaging the world around us, and then not change? Is it Christian to just show our support for those things, and then go about our daily lives as if it doesn’t apply to us? Are we honestly so na├»ve as to think that just because we agree with a convicting message that it somehow excuses us from any responsibility?

I mean, imagine if Luke 9 had actually gone like this…

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3He told them: "Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them." 6After that, while nodding in approval, Peter said to the other disciples, “Wow, yea, he’s got a good point!” Fidgeting uncomfortably, Andrew nervously suggested, “You guys wanna just go back to fishing? I’m sure there’s someone else who is better at this whole ‘Kingdom of God’ stuff than us.” 7They all breathed a sigh of relief, and walked away knowing that the weight of the world was no longer on their shoulders.

Can you begin to imagine the fury Jesus would’ve felt? Unless I’m drawing a line between things that are unrelated, that’s roughly what we, as Christians, do. A defining aspect of our Christian culture is to say support good causes, but not actually get off our butts and do anything about it.

Anyway, I’m going back to my comfy desk job. I just thought I’d share these musings with you.

Why I Will Never Own an iPhone

There are a lot of Christian bloggers out there who love to take an aspect of our culture, vilify it, equate it to sin, and make us all think twice about doing something that we all do anyway. Well, I’m no different. There are a lot of things that genuinely abhor about the way we live our lives as we claim to be followers of Christ. But, I’m not about to blame the gun for hurting someone – we make our own choices, and we’re responsible for the consequences. And, for the record, I won’t preface anything I say here by saying I don’t intend to offend you. In fact, if something I say here pertains to you, I hope it DOES sting a little, because I think it’s a pretty important that we step beside ourselves once in a while and look at the big picture of our lives in relation to the one we call our savior.

That said, the recent hype over smart phones has been an excellent reflection of something that gets to me sometimes. I’ve owned one. They’re pretty slick, there’s no denying that. It’s fun to instantly text your friends as many times as you want, even while you’re sitting in a boring meeting at work. It’s nice to be able to poke around on the internet in the middle of a conversation to look up some important information. And heck, I’ll even admit I’ve been impressed by the program that can identify a song just by listening to it.

But, here’s where I get hung up. I know a million people who own these top-of-the-line phones, so I’m frequently exposed to conversations about them. While it’s neat that these fancy phones have all these extra features that could probably neuter your dog if you needed them to, I almost never hear anyone saying how thankful they are that they own this big, fancy phone. They tout the features of it, but never how helpful it is, or how convenient it is, or how “It totally saved my life when I was lost on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere” (a frequent excuse for owning one).

I can’t honestly say that I have ever heard anyone, nor do I think I ever will hear anyone, say, “I am SO happy that I have this iPhone so I can play farting noises in the middle of quiet rooms!” Yes, there is a Fart application. I’m not kidding.

And it makes me wonder, how often do we do things JUST because they’re the cool thing to do without really thinking through whether it’s something we need or not? I’m not about to roll into a rant about being wise with your money, or how we should consider our blessings in light of those less fortunate, though those are both topics very worthy of discussion in their own rite. What I am more concerned about is the underlying behavior, and how we drag it into our faith.

It reminds me of when I first started in music ministry. I was itching like crazy to play. I remember harassing Michael Novotny for weeks on end to get me an audition in the middle of Easter season. And when he finally did, I was all over the place almost instantly. I got into playing for the Hope weekend services, I quickly got asked to play for Immersion, people in the Immersion band asked me to help with student ministry music, and soon I was dragging my bass out to Jordan Creek and Ashworth 5 or 6 nights a week. I was on fire!

And this isn’t entirely different than what it’s like getting a smart phone. First you see your friend’s new phone and all the fun things it can do. Soon you’re enamored and hell-bent on getting one for yourself. FINALLY the day arrives when you’re holding that $500 pile of plastic and gadgetry in your hands, and it begins! You get all your contacts organized, synch up your email, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other account you “need” to access with it, load on all your music, get pictures of all your friends, download all the latest applications, and use any and every excuse to be meddling with your phone throughout the day. I mean, if you’re stuck in a long line at the McDonald’s drive-through, the Twitter-verse needs to know about it, right?

But, slowly it started to wear on me. This super awesome music schedule that I’d run headlong into had basically overtaken my life and was pulling me away from friends and family, distracting me at my job, and interfering with good habits that I’d worked hard to develop. There came a point where I realized that it had felt like months since I’d even sat down and had a heart to heart with the person I considered to be my best friend. And from there, the realizations of the life I’d lost started pouring in…

How I never got to work out…
How I never had time to go out to eat during the week…
How I never spent time reading the Bible…
How I was blowing off family engagements and holidays to play…
How I hadn’t seen to my mom in nearly a year, and was using music as a reason not to…

And what killed most, how most of the time when I was out there playing, I felt empty. It wasn’t giving me life. I wasn’t giving a gift to God – I was there begrudgingly, because I felt I had to. As a musician, this is just what you did, right?

Well, in my heart, I don’t think so. I don’t think Christ would call any of us to live that way. I will boldly say that I think we, as Americans, do way too much, way too often, and we let it suck life away from us JUST because that’s what is expected of us. Or, that’s just what we do. That’s just what is cool.

If you are a Christian, and you aren’t going to church at LEAST once a week, you don’t read your Bible every day, you aren’t in a Bible study, you don’t volunteer in some ministry within the church, and you haven’t shared the gospel with your coworkers, you’re some kind of failure. Tell me that message hasn’t crossed your mind at least once. Do it, and I’ll happily call you a liar.

I could go on and on about this, but I think you see my point by now. Never be afraid to genuinely examine your life, your time, your investments, your activities, and asking why they’re a part of your life. Is it there because it’s a genuine calling from God, or is it there just because you felt like it was what you should do? If you never even have time to just go sit in the sun and watch the grass blow, maybe you need to think about the relative importance of everything that is filling up your life.

Try it sometime; I think you’ll be pleased with what you discover.