Sunday, November 7, 2010

No More Mr. Nice Guy

This last week's episode of The Office (The Christening) was about Jim and Pam baptizing their baby girl Cece. It was an ok episode, humor wise. But it was interesting, for me at least, because most of the episode was set in a church and it really drew out some churchy/religious themes. Knowing Michael Scott's character, that he is almost desparate for relationships, it was funny to see how the church people were so nice to him and how he started responding favorably to them. For a moment it left you wondering if he finally found a place that would accept him for who he was - Michael Scott is going to church!

But really, everyone in the church was really nice. Really, really nice. Everyone said hello, and had great manners, and were just so agreeable. And the youth group was so enthusiastic and well behaved, and they were fired up about going to serve in Mexico, and the parents were all so proud of them, and everything was just so "Hey, Alright!"

It's a little unsettling to me that the perception of Christians is that they are nice people. Think Ned Flanders. It's not so much that being a nice person is a bad thing, but it's this perception that "being nice" is the only real value that Christianity offers.

I don't think Jesus was nice. He was good, he was well-mannered, he was gentle and compassionate, yes. But the lasting image of Jesus that his followers should emulate is not nice. Like this image that we have of him cuddling babies and toting lambs. Aww. 

But nice doesn't confront injustices. Nice doesn't battle addictions and abusive relationships. Nice doesn't hit the streets to reach prostitutes, drug dealers, and gangbangers. Nice doesn't get the job done. And nice doesn't capture Jesus.

I think Jesus was more like my friend Juan. He is a pastor in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. He's an old school guy who grew up in that area, lived a very rough street life, and eventually began following Jesus. One time after a service at his church he went to take out some trash in the alley and a guy was waiting there to mug him. When he attacked, Juan manhandled the guy and then threw him to the ground and pinned him there.  The mugger was stunned and yelled at him, "Man, I thought you were a Christian!"  Juan replied, "It's because I'm a Christian that you're not dead right now."

See, now that was nice of him.

No comments:

Post a Comment