. . . . continue to stare us in the face.
Let’s see a touchdown dance for the Christians. We just scored a big victory!
Various faith-based groups put enough pressure on the Paramount Group that is releasing the movie “Noah” that Paramount actually released a disclaimer:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.” You can read more here: http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-news/noah-disclaimer-forced-religious-critics-193523987.html
Phew! What a relief! Something tells me the Triune God isn’t having a dance party right now over this “victory” while millions will go hungry today, the fight regarding health care rages on, and another predatory lender pops up on the street corner near you. But chalk one up for Jesus and the Gospel right? We’ve protected the integrity of Scripture.
Or have we?
Are we as followers of the Way of Christ known more for we are against or what we are for? When I hear church members say that social justice, advocacy, and meeting the felt needs of the poor are liberal, democratic themes finding their way into the church and “high-jacking” the Gospel, my heart breaks.
In the Gospel according to Luke, we find the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Luke 4. One of my favorite passages of Scripture says:
14 Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region. 15 He taught regularly in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
19 and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
20 He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21 Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
Here, Jesus is quoting Isaiah 61:1-2. Is Jesus mistaken? Is this not part of the Gospel? Was Jesus just a liberal taken up by the popular social issues of his day as well?
Or perhaps is this part of the very essence of the Gospel? That the Triune God holistically cares for the individual and the community and that includes food, health care, jobs, relationships, finances, government policies, equality, war, and so much more? Is John 3:16 the Gospel? Yes. But is that just one facet of the Triune God’s grander mission in the world? I think so.
One of my all time quotes continues to be “What I believe is not what I say I believe; what I believe is what I do.” Right belief AND right living. Orthodoxy AND orthopraxy. At the end of the day, I’m going to lean into right practice. If I have to give an account before the Triune God one day for my “liberal” practices in social justice, advocacy, and caring for others, so be it. I take heart in Jesus’ words that “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Today, may we love God and love people.