Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘The Avengers’

TV Time Machine

Yes, you could call it escapism.  TNT just enjoyed the biggest cable television debut of the year with their updated version of Dallas.  Who would have thought that the oily Ewing Clan and the Southfork Ranch, vintage 1978, could reclaim their sizzle in 2012?  Two weeks ago, The Hatfields & McCoys gave the History Channel a ratings surge and heated up Google’s Search Engine.  That feud ended in 1891 but the story is suddenly in cultural currency once again.

The trend is not limited to TV.  The biggest movie of the year has been The Avengers, based on a comic strip popular in the 1960’s.  The leader of the Avengers, Captain America, operates on the values of the 1940’s.  And yesterday, I picked up my Wall Street Journal to learn that in the world of fashion, the bikini is so yesterday.  The hottest swim suits of 2012 will feature the one piece look displaying lots of fabric, no navels and little cleavage.  I’ve never actually seen an Esther Merman movie, a 1950’s phenom with curvy swimmers and water choreography, but the swim suits in the WSJ called Esther’s name to mind once again.

Speaking of water, tonight a member of the famous Wallenda Family will attempt to walk a cable across the gorge of the Niagara Falls.  The event will be televised nationally on ABC.  You can’t get much more old school than tight rope walking.

There’s no doubt we Americans still love high tech toys.  We are addicted to our smart phones.  We fixate on our giant screen HD-TV’s, and we are learning to love our I-Pads and Kindles.  Isn’t it ironic that we are using them to escape to an age when the highest technology was named Sputnik and when Bozo the Clown was a popular TV show?  We could count on Flash Gordon to save the planet.  We could trust Lucy and Desi to give us a laugh with the children without being embarrassed.  And a trip to the beach took us to a distant shore where even the sexiest swimwear left something to the imagination.

As Americans welcome the Summer of 2012, we have created a world with big questions and very little certainty. Our leaders are shrinking along with our personal wealth.  Life feels like a very hot day from 1955 when you’re still holding an old fashioned cherry bomb, and you’ve lit the fuse, but you haven’t tossed it away yet.  You can’t hold that thing one more second!  And it no longer feels like we’re all in this together.  We’re all watching different channels on our I-Phones.  We’re listening to different stations on our ear buds.  Can you hear me now?  Can you hear me now?

I’m glad God is not finished with America yet.  And I don’t think America is done with the Gospel either, no matter what the pollsters say.  Sure, we can take comfort in this new wave of nostalgia, but we always wake up the next morning to the mess we’ve made in 2012.  Suddenly, the grace of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ look really good, don’t they?  Maybe better than ever!

Lift up the Cross!

Would You Recognize God if You Saw Him?

There’s at least one unforgettable line in the new motion picture, The Avengers.   Early in the film, Captain America sets off to recover a captive who has been stolen away by the superhero Thor.  Before he departs, Black Widow warns him that he should think twice before taking on a god so powerful and well armed.  ““There’s only one God, ma’am,” our hero responds blandly, “and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

I was reminded of a young man who showed up before worship Sunday to ask questions.  Just two weeks before, he had made a decision to renounce Islam and become a follower of Jesus Christ.  He still did not understand all that this would mean.  But he understood one thing: he was burned out and empty from going to mosques and hearing people talk about hatred and enemies.  He confessed wearily, “I just needed to find the love of God.”

Sure, there are people in strange places who delight in a raging deity who loves nothing more than seeing his people slaughter their neighbors.  But there are still multitudes  of people who don’t yet know God, but know what he’s not.  “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he’s not like that.”

I thought about another young man from the Middle East who found our church one Sunday morning perhaps two years ago.  He returned the next week and the next and the next.  We discovered he was a Christian who had renounced Islam just two or three years earlier.  After arriving in America, he visited first one Christian church and another.  But he eventually gave up and began staying home.  “Nobody seemed interested in me.  It felt like they couldn’t trust me.”  After months away from worship, he met a follower of Christ who invited him to Providence.  It wasn’t a particular strain of biblical theology or even the worship style that made him one of us.  It was simple love and acceptance.  He found some people who loved him and wanted to know him.

What kind of people wear suits and ties to visit highly decorated church buildings where they turn away lonely, isolated men and women ?  I don’t know, but there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.

Wanna hear an ironic nugget of truth from our high tech, over-sexed US culture?  Google the word sex, and you’ll find 3,250,000,000 results.  But Google the word love and you’ll come up with 8,330,000,000 entries!  The overwhelming majority of human beings are still searching for authentic love and genuine acceptance.

Sure, we have celebrity atheists who say the Church of Jesus Christ is evil.  And yes, there are some angry, unkind people scattered around the world who boast that they are “Christians.”  But there’s only one God, ma’am, and most of us are pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

Lift up the Cross!

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