Friday, March 5, 2010

An Outsider's Perception of Christianity

Rabbi Rami canceled his classes on Thursday, I'd wish he sent out an email so I could have stayed at home. Although the day wasn't a total waste since I got a chance to dialog with some of my fellow students who showed up unaware of the cancellation. I sat down with two different classmates and as we shared our life stories I realized the importance of simply being an ear for our neighbor.

Without plummeting into the spiraling trap of stereotyping Christians, consider what we as Christians are doing wrong to give ourselves a bad wrap. We should be known as agents of unconditional love, extreme emphasis on the should. Yet we gather in churches every week to worship and praise God while the pastor rehashes the same sermon on turning away from sin. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, yet when we exit the sanctuary into the real world do we feel any different, and more importantly do we make a difference in the world? I know I'm painting with an extremely broad and negative brush yet it's more than just a couple sour apples fallen from the vast tree of Christianity which has soiled the faith. A new documentary by Dan Merchant entitled Lord, Save Us From Your Followers tackles the issues, impact, and perception outsiders have of Christians.

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers had a limited theatrical release last fall and is being released in DVD format on April 20. The film can be enjoyed by anyone but the target audience are Christians. The official website even encourages churches to hold public showings of the film in their church followed by discussion and dialog. The film covers a lot of ground but doesn't go into great detail because it is meant to primarily raise discussion on how Christians are viewed by outsiders. It's NOT a Christian bashing film since Merchant, the writer and director, states that he is a Christian.

Should we even care how non-Christians perceive us? What then should guide us to become better more loving people? Should we stick to our Bibles and beliefs disregarding how we may come across to those whom we seek to convert? (Again I'm speaking in generalities since I don't attend church nor do I wish to convert anyone.) One of the more challenging concepts Christians may have with this film is that Non-Christians are more open-minded and knowledgeable about the Christian worldview than Christians are of Non-Christians. Regardless of the statistical validity of the statement I believe the point is that we should transcend what we think we know of the Other and actually get to know them. What is the danger of sitting down and getting to know the Secularist, Atheist, Liberal-Progressive, and even believers of other faiths? Christians would say that the beliefs of the Other may cause us to question our faith poisoning our "pure" beliefs. I would argue that the actual fear Christians have in getting to know outsiders is that they might see them as human and might actually love them! An enemy is easy to demonize and condemn when they're kept separate and distant. But bring them close enough to touch and the stereotypes, criticism, and hatred begin to fade. When we sit down and actually get to know the person behind the beliefs they become increasingly harder to hate. Well, unless they're a jerk, then we have to work that much harder to love them.


Thesauros said...

Thank you. I wasn't aware of this video and will let our Pastor know about it. I especially like the idea of inviting the community to a viewing followed by a discussion. Good luck on your journey.

Don said...

Most interesting. I, too, have never heard of this documentary. I will find it and watch it.

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