I once knew a couple with two teenaged boys. They were doting parents who taught their kids the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and good manners. They ate a family meal together every evening. They were devoted Christians who seemed determined to raise their boys to be devoted Christians.
I knew them around the time that American Idol was just beginning. And, I remember how upset they were by the show’s title. While all of America was watching Kelly Clarkson rise to stardom, these parents had banned the show in their home because it had the word “idol” in its title. They never watched the show. Never investigated to see what it was like or whether it might be something basically wholesome for their kids to consume. They just rejected it out of principle, and they told their boys that they would have nothing to do with the idolatrous program.
If that were the end of the story, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. After all, there were better things for the boys to be doing with their time than watching television.
But, that wasn’t the end of the story.
Because while the still uninvestigated American Idol was taboo in their home, many other uninvestigated things were not. Like The Sopranos, for instance. The doting parents had gone out and purchased an entire season of the show on DVD for their young teenagers to watch. This, a show known for its violence, prolonged nudity, graphic sex scenes, drug dealing, and an average of one f-word per minute.
It was a classic case of Christians missing the entire point.
I sometimes think about that little family, parents peacefully sleeping upstairs, secure in their knowledge that they were protecting their kids from the evils of the media, while their boys sat in the basement, watching strippers and simulated sex, rewinding the scenes they wanted to get a better look at. But, hey, at least they weren’t watching a show with “idol” in its name.
And, I look around these days, and I see us doing the same thing again and again. We get so wrapped up in things that don’t amount to anything at all and turn a blind eye to what is really killing us and our kids. While Christians are being brutally persecuted and children are starving to death and the sin in our lives is destroying us and people every day are dying and going to a very real Hell, we spent HOURS of our lives this week thinking about a stupid red cup.
Wise and discerning Christians that I admire write moving and beautiful articles to the glory of God, and other Christians leave comments complaining about how the person in the post’s stock photo is dressed too immodestly. I mean, really? I’m beginning to feel like we are a people known for missing the point. We can’t see the dark and deadly forest at our doorstep for the shimmering, golden we-are-so-good trees.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the type of Christian who is like an oblivious parent, reveling in what a great job I’m doing while sin runs rampant in my own basement. I’m sick of seeing all of us completely miss the point.
It reminds me of when Mary came in and poured her expensive perfume on Jesus, and Judas got all worked up because he thought she should’ve given away the money that she wasted on God’s feet. He didn’t protest out of a deep, abiding love for the poor. His words reveal that he was much more focused on the worth on the perfume than on the worth of Christ or the precious outpouring of love that Mary showed as she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. In other words, he completely missed the significance of the moment.
I think we are all pretty clear that we don’t want to take our Christianity cues from Judas. So, my prayer is that God will open our eyes, really, to all of the areas where we are missing the point altogether. And, when that finally happens, I think we will end up gentler and more gracious where grace is needed and bolder and more fierce where real outrage is warranted. When we get there, we will have a much bigger impact on this world and on the Kingdom.