Blogger JT asked a great question. He tried to piece together my random meanderings and wondered if there is a connection between following Christ and being massochistic. The question brings to mind a statement that was by some 1800’s thinker. It might have been Nietzsche. It also brought to mind the image of underwear-clad Mel Gibson leaping around and begging everyone to punish him in the name of Christ.
There are people who would tell me that we should pay attention to the thinking of Nietzsche. There are people who would tell me that I ought to steer clear of South Park. The truth is that I don’t read much of the former these days. And as for the latter… I’m not going to deny that 90% of my reason for watching South Park is the sheer amusement of the often cutting insights of Matt and Trey Parker.
But the other 10%? The reason I think it’s worthwhile to pay attention to cultural “events” that are hostile to Christianity is that I think we get really interesting insight into how the world sees us. The bible is pretty clear around the idea that we ought to be aware of the impression we have on non-believers.
JT got to this question in a more wholesome manner. Yet I would have gotten there faster if I’d paid more attention to Nietzsche… or South Park.
I want to state clearly that we can over-do it, paying attention to the world’s opinion of us. I think institutional Christianity– I think that the global church collectively– has gone too far in the opposite direction. We have paid too little attention to culture.
We ought to pay attention to culture because we ought to be aware of potential obstacles to our testimony. If people think Christians are massochistic, this should impact how we share the good news of God’s grace. But tuning into culture is also important because it just might turn out that there is something valid running underneath the criticisms. I think we underestimate a real challenge: our world view carries an Ethical code quite intimately with it. When a non-Christian fails to take the moral high ground, he is not open to charges of hipocrisy. But as Christians, if we don’t maturely and realistically assess challenges, this act actually implies that there is, in fact, something wrong with our world view itself.
After all these words I haven’t even got to the actual question: Are Christians massochistic? I think I’ll save that for next post. If you’ve got an answer to the question, I’d love to read it in the comments below before I share my thoughts on the topic.