I’ve been watching The Bible miniseries with my 8 year old daughter and have enjoyed it much. I won’t quibble with what the producers have done with it. It’s a dramatic adaptation of the biblical narrative, which requires both selectivity and imagine in order to play out the storyline. But as we were watching the last installment of the series, I wondered how this series might affect my daughter who is watching the series with great interest and reverence for God but has never read through the entire Bible. After all, it is always better to have read the primary literature (in this case, the Bible) before turning to the secondary literature.
As I thought about it, I realized that what was concerning me was the violence. It’s impossible to tell the story that runs through the Bible without telling of the violence. In this particular case, I was concerned with the affect that the dramatic retelling of what happened to Jesus’ apostles was having on her.
As I continued thinking about this, it dawned on my like an epiphany how Christianity used to be this…
But now is this…
I mean, I have visited churches before where I can stop at their cozy book store, trendy coffee shop, and savvy internet cafe, all before checking my children into a state-of-the-art “kid’s zone” Sunday school class and then head off to an awesome worship gathering led by a rockin’ praise band before hearing a message from a hip pastor.
Ok. I’ll admit it. I wouldn’t mind having a coffee shop where my church meets and I’m obviously the most hip pastor you will ever meet :-). But in a culture of American Christianity where discipleship appears to be lacking, I wonder if churches have tried to make Christianity so palpable to the American culture that we have lost something vital to our witness.
I don’t want to face persecution and I do enjoy praise songs as well as a good cafe mocha on my way to worship. However, as I wondered what affect scenes of persecution would have on my daughter, I wondered whether or not she would want to be a Christian if she knew that she might get killed for it. But I’m not sure she would ever know that she might have to suffer persecution for believing in Jesus from just being a part of some American churches…perhaps even my own. And that says as much about me as it does other Christians.
Christianity then was a persecuted faith and Christianity now appears as a sanitized faith. Lord, have mercy on me…on us!