Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Secular Message Christians Should Hear

“There are plenty of people in the world who believe in something and fail to live up to it at times.”

That was the blunt – and surely, the only redeeming – message of last night’s episode of House, the Fox drama about the brilliant, but deeply flawed physicist Dr. Gregory House, who is more prone to popping pain killers than providing any personal comfort to any of his patients during the course of their mysterious illnesses. Last night’s episode should have come as no surprise to anyone familiar with this character or the state of the media’s secular worldview. House does not believe in God and when he comes in contact with a possible miracle, he is hell-bent on proving that there is always – undeniably - a rational explanation for anything that can happen in this life. For those of you not familiar with the program who could give a care less about anything Fox network has to say about God or faith or medicine, please bear with me, I have a point to make. (If you could bear my soap opera references below, I trust you’ll find this equally relevant. One can hope!)

The patient that House comes into contact with is a 16 year old boy who claims to hear the voice of God. As per usual on Fox and any other network approaching such a delicate subject as devout faith, the boy was made out to be more of a cartoon character than a human being and more of a nut than a Christian. This is not surprising. What, after all, has the secular media to offer to debate in the Christian community? More than we realize, I think.

While Christian programming is popular among those who subscribe to the Christian belief system, it is often inaccessible for those who lack faith or spiritual maturity. They are left to get their lessons on God from secular programs that pretend to be religious such as 7th Heaven, which – although it was a program depicting the family of a pastor – was careful not to make any references to God or prayer throughout the course it ran. As a Christian, I sometimes feel it’s important to be familiar with what messages the secular media sends out, if only to be able to rebut the false notions that are presented. I was eager to see how House would frame the issue, though my hope that it would sent any message of redemption dwindled as the program progressed and the main character seemed to become more possessed than convicted.

To sum up the story (so I can finally reach the point I promised earlier) House makes a list comparing his victories to God, and another doctor on the staff who himself is no beacon of morality makes a comment that hits a nerve. He tells House that the reason he cannot believe in God is because that would mean he’d have to admit that he is not in control of everything, that he would have to believe that at any moment, God could exact his will and leave the good doctor paralyzed and incapable of changing the situation. In effect, he tells House that he would have to admit he’s been playing God and give up the power he’s assigned himself. And it hit me that this is a struggle we all go through when we begin to lean on faith, and for a moment I hoped that the character would realize the relief that would come of admitting it’s not all in his hands. But sadly, the story does not end here. It turns out that the “miracle” was actually nothing more than a fraud on the part of the 16 year old boy who in truth had herpes after engaging in pre-marital sex. House concludes that the boy is little more than a hypocrite and the other doctor makes the statement that appears at the top of this blog. That people falter, that people can have beliefs and still fail. Perhaps, not the redeeming message that one might have hoped for, but a start, nonetheless.

And - although it unfairly charecterized Christians - it got me thinking. How often do we really live up to what it means to be a Christian? How often do we behave in ways that diminish other’ perceptions of our faith or cast doubt on the strength of our convictions and then turn around and discuss God? We all fall short, but we still try to send out the message of hope and salvation to a world that is waiting for us to stumble, hungry for more material for late night skits. The example in House is a bit obnoxious and barely conceals it’s skepticism of Christians, but perhaps there is something to be learned from it. We have a duty to respond with love even to criticism and hatred in spite of the fact that we are incapable of leading the sinless life that Christ did. We have a duty to go beyond preaching to the choir and engage those who need better instruction than Oprah’s proselytizing about intolerance or redemptive messages from primetime dramas. We have a duty to admit that we are not perfect but to try our best to live the lives we should. To be an example. (If only it were as easy said as done!)

In admitting our shortcomings, I think, we better glorify a God that does not fail or fall short.

21 comments:

green said...

1 Peter 3:15-17 NIV

15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

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audrey` said...

May the peace of God be with you, Nan :)

twogether said...

Sadly, we as Christians do have our own perceptions and convictions. Not the worlds perception, but yours. You say we characterize christians. You question one's ability to live up to faith and cast down our strength. Complain about discussing God, yet discuss Christianity with us. Mixing a message of hope and salvation to us. You question our ways of living claiming deminishment. A home hit with obnoxiousness hints at a hatred for Christians. Say it isn't so.

Kitty Cheng said...

Nan, I always think that Christians should learn from the secular message, and what you're posted here is such a relevant and important message. Thank you for the insight.

twogether said...

Christianity doesn't coincide with personal convictions and perceptions. This isn't the world's perceptions, but your's. Your definitly characterizing Christians. You hint we dont live up to our intended faith, but cast it away. You also send a message of hope and faith, but complain about Christians discussing God. You question our behavior, claiming we stumble. This obnoxious home indicates some kinda hatred. Say that isn't so.

twogether said...
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twogether said...
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the_sum_of_the_difference_of_two said...
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~Deb said...

Well it does all boil down to faith, doesn’t it? Think about it—when people say, “Oh I want to be independent”, or, “I want someone who is independent.” Do they really want that? Someone who only relies on themselves instead of God? Independence has been overrated in my opinion.

What does it mean to be Christian? To be human, and to love God with all your heart. It’s treating people the way you want to be treated in return. It’s all about love and faith, acceptance and respect. It’s about loving Jesus, and believing that He died for all of us for our sins. All of us sin—not one single person is without sin.

People who want to constantly be ‘in control’ are in danger of losing that ability, and realizing that it’s not about control---it’s about faith and letting things ‘be’. Letting faith guide your destiny.

Even with operations, I pray God will use His hand to work ‘through’ the doctor’s hands---in order for me or anyone else to be healed successfully.

I love the show House. I watched it only once, and there were two girls that were living together as a couple. The one wanted to end it with her lover. She was in need of half a liver, so her girlfriend that was about to get dumped volunteered. She knew her girlfriend was about to break up with her too. It was sad. But that doctor—the one you speak of—he’s kinda annoying. But yeah, I’m hooked on that show too!

clew said...

Poignant as always, Nan. Not just our words but our lives are our testimony. I heard a quote one time and cant remember who or where at the moment, but it says something about "the drums of who you are beat so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying".

Great observation about House's control issues. My biggest problem is that when I put things into God's In Box, I take them right back out again so I can obssess and try to control everything myself.

Ugh. I hate it when I notice how ugly I am.

Hugs!

Damian said...

Great post Nanz! We can be Christians; None of us can obey in our own power, but through Christ we can and must. Satan, in order to make God's requests appear unreasonable, invented the falsehood that obedience is impossible. The secular world as we refer to is inside the churchs' now and the secular society knows this that's why they think we are hypocrites. I read somewhere once that if we as Christians (Church) were living a holy and humble life, following Christ whole heartedly and doing is commandments more people in the world would join up to be Christians. People are not stupid and they know whats really happening inside our churchs' and that's one of the major reasons why they don't come and are skeptical.

http://www.amazingfacts.org/items/study_guides.asp

Nunzia said...

to clarify... in case you are wondering why there are so many deleted comments, one comment got posted a number of times and for the sake of not jamming up the commments section I deleted the identical ones.

But i wanted to respond to the comment that was left... I'm afraid that you've misunderstood my intention here... I am a Christian and this post was to recommend that we start paying attention to what the world says about us rather than turning only to our community. I think it's our duty to reach out to those who don't believe and witness with the way we live our lives, rather than letting the media deliver a dilluted message about faith and God. I do not have any complaints about talking about God. It's something I definitely encourage. I was merely pointing out that we all are human and fall short as well as the difficulties with living up to what we believe...

Kristi said...

Nan, I appreciate how you clearly filter everything you watch through a Biblical perspective. You don't just sit and swallow all the lies of the media like so many immature Christians do. I'm glad you're bringing up these issues that we all face as we watch these programs, and setting the perspective clear.

Procyon said...

Nunzia, I saw your posting in My Space in 'Jesus in My Life' group. I think you should check out a truly spiritual Christian blog at http://borax.wordpress.com and get to 'know God' in a deeply intimate experiential way. I assure you that the blog will inspire and edify you.

Regards
Borax

twogether said...

This appears to be a good place for five good people. Fib nothing or things will be bad. Perhaps two Christians, two bad, and one. Or maybe one. Perhaps five jumped the another. Two good. Damien,this seems that Nazi's writing leads her to her own end. Clew controls everything that she can. I'm sure your beautiful. Kristi's glad. Ten Christians, two Christians bad.

twogether said...

No fibs or things will be bad. Appears to be a place for five good Christians. Maybe two good, two bad, and one. Maybe One. Maybe five jumped the other. Maybe ten and two bad. Seems your writing leads you to your own ending. Clew, your controlling that which you can. I'm sure your beautiful. Kristi's glad.

Godwyn Lim said...

Dear Sister Nan, the God we serve is a GOOD God, whose Mercy & Loving Kindness embrace us daily!

A cool revelation you shared, might not all will agree, yet what matters most is Jesus heard it for sure...

When God is for you, WHO can be against you? Hope in Christ, you will never be forsaken, His Promise, His Salvation!

Shalom be with you:-)

Nunzia said...

Thank you so much :)

Tony Myles said...

Amazing summary... very cool insights!