My favorite type of episode to write for the Superbook Show are the Bizarre Bible Bytes. Morgan kills this one (sorry, pun unintended!). Directed and edited by Kara Roberts. Enjoy!
This is a bit of a continuation of the conversation from my Sunday School group that I was relating last week: the-hero-of-the-story-part-one
My wife’s favorite time to eye-roll is when I get a call from a telemarketer or a scammer. If the telemarketer won’t take a simple “no” for an answer, I am often too happy to keep them on the line.
I once read a particularly obnoxious newspaper salesman the entire “Green Eggs and Ham” book, substituting in the name of his paper for the green eggs, and “read” with “eat.” “I will not read it here or there, I will not read it anywhere!” He hung up before I got all the way to the end.
My brothers are better at this game than I am. When one brother was told that the caller’s monitor indicated his computer had a virus, my brother refused to go to the computer until his scammer could assure him that the virus was not contagious to humans.
Great fun. Then I read this article from Readers Digest. (Go ahead, and read it.)
Could I see an internet scammer as the hero of a story? Answer the phone thinking, “How can I love this person?” Probably not.
To be clear: no one is saying we need to fall for the scam – that’s not love either. But to think of the other person as a child of God, misplaced, broken, but still a child of God. Hmmm.
My friend, aptly named Faith, once got an obscene phone call. Her response? Pity. She told the man that she understood how lonely and desperate he must be to making this call. She told him that he was loved; that Jesus wanted more and better for him.
It wasn’t a joke to her, or a way to get the caller off the phone. She genuinely hurt seeing the fallen nature at work in this fellow human being.
I’m still working on that.
In our Sunday School class, we took a deeper look at a parable we all knew. Before we started, we watched this video:
After viewing the short, we then looked again at the parable of the Good Samaritan.
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[e] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ •36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.Luke 10:33-36, NLT
I know this parable, I know it well. And I get it – I’m supposed to love the Other; I’m supposed to think of the Samaritan equivalent in my life as my neighbor. And if I come across that Other in peril, I’m supposed to stop and help.
But Jesus was much more subversive than that in this parable. Jesus doesn’t say that we should stop and love on the Samaritan. He says we are to see the Samaritan as the hero in our story. The Other wasn’t helped by the Good Us.
The Other was the hero of the story.
More than loving the enemy, more than loving the person that we have already pre-judged, or even rightfully judged, more than that:
Are we will to look at them as the potential hero of the story?
The guy with the MAGA hat? The guy with the Obama bumper sticker? The TV preacher? The professional atheist speaker? The guy bumming change on the corner? The CEO with the $100 million golden parachute?
Can we see them as a hero?
Is our love that subversive?
The big lesson seems to be trying to see each other as God sees us, rather than how the world tells us to see.
Want to know what that would look like? Here is a scene from Cheers that gives us a glimpse. The scene is with Coach (one of the bartenders) and his daughter. She is engaged to be married to a man that mistreats her. Coach has decided it is time to confront his daughter.
Notice that Coach is not very bright.
And incredibly wise.
May you all have a Coach in your life; and may you see yourself as he sees you.
We are continuing the conversation on beauty. Our group talked about the distortion last time. Next we turned our attention to the idea that only 2% of women think they are beautiful.
Peter (one of the Biblical letter writers) talked about inner beauty. It made us wonder how much thinking you are beautiful helps make you appear beautiful.
Which led us to watching this video. (Warning, there are some foul words ahead.)
Among the things we noticed from the experience of watching:
-Many of the subjects lit up upon hearing that they were considered beautiful. Which made them even more beautiful. This is some of that inner stuff leaking out.
-We were struck by the guy who at first lit up, but then decided he didn’t believe Shea. How often do we do the same thing with any received compliment? First feel good, then rationalize it away.
How twisted is that as a defense mechanism? To choose not to believe a compliment rather than risk confirming what we are already thinking.
-Like the woman who got angry; so far from thinking she could possibly be beautiful that she defaults to assuming that a compliment is an attack.
Shea unveils a hidden truism in her experiment – everyone is made beautiful.
God made us beautiful. Yet we struggle to believe this is true.
As people of faith, we know that God made everyone uniquely gorgeous. What if part of our view of evangelism was simply letting people know that?
What if being part of church included feeling like a worthy work of art?
What if when we look at people outside the church, we see their beauty before we see them as anything else?
What would that do for the image of the Bride of Christ?
Another topic my Sunday School attacked was how our culture approaches the concept of beauty. We approached this in three steps. First, we looked at the distortion of beauty. Here is our kick-off quote.
It was pointed out that 2% of women consider themselves to be beautiful. Thanks to Dove, we had an insight to how natural our concept of the benchmark of beauty is. Check out this short:
Nothing new, we’ve known this goes on for a while now. As “All About the Bass” reinforces, “we know that ish ain’t real, come on now make it stop.” But despite knowing it ain’t real, we still as a culture fall into the trap of seeing this as natural beauty.
What does our faith tell us about this?
No mention of photoshop or even makeup. Guess Peter wasn’t hip to the media. Notice the qualities that are in focus: your looks from the inside. The “who” one is is more than important than the “what” one looks like.
So when talking about beauty, we have to realize that we are starting in distortion; we are trained to see beauty in all the wrong ways. This means we need to work at seeing rightly.
We need to work at it.
Think on that for a while. I’ll take on part two shortly.
Last week, I talked about the sacrificial love of a dinosaur and a fox.
Our Sunday School class continued the conversation, pointing out that we were limiting ourselves in our discussion. It was pointed out that Christ did not have the same limitations we do on the definition of “friend.”
Now we are in harder territory – loving the stranger. Or worse, the guy we choose to keep as a stranger.
For solace, we turned to the great story teller, Walter Wangerin Jr., and his story of the Ragman.
Pretty powerful stuff. Walt has that way, of getting in.
So that is the dilemma we left hanging in our Sunday School. If we aren’t strong enough to follow Christ in sacrificially loving those that we know and hold close – how do we transfer the love of God to those we hold only at a distance, if at all?
The Bible says we can only love because we have been loved. Can we realize that deep enough, strong enough, real enough to live lives of sacrifice?
What would the world think of our church if we actually did as we were told?
Our Sunday School class at Wilmore Free Methodist (apparently they don’t charge, like those other Methodists do. I may be hazy on the theological meaning of “free.”) focuses on the intersection of culture and Biblical faith.
One Sunday was devoted to love – and we started by watching “Lost & Found.” If you haven’t seen it, take the time now.
Watched it? Good. Cried a little? That just means you have a heart.
We disagreed on whether the video was moving and depressing; or moving and uplifting. I vote for uplifting – fox will succeed in her knitting project.
We then talked about the short in terms of the two forms of sacrificial love shown – by the dinosaur, willing to give his life to save his friend; and by the fox, willing to give up her life so dinosaur wouldn’t have to.
No-brainer on how to connect this to our faith – and our supreme example. The challenge came when we stopped looking at our role models, and looked more inward, at our own willingness to show this level of love.
Not so easy to honestly answer which friends we love enough to unravel for; and which ones we just wished we loved that much.
Then we hit a snag, when we realized that our examples of dinosaur and fox, as beautiful as they are, fell short of the kind of thing that Jesus was actually talking about.
To be continued…