Engage. Don’t Avoid.

I’m not sure where the notion comes from that the best way to be a witness of the hope that is within us is to speak so judgmentally about the world around us, but I think it’s high time that we as Christians learned how to engage the culture around us instead of just avoiding it.

Currently, I’m working on the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, a well-known musical that is loosely based on the story of Joseph in Genesis.  We’ve been in production for several weeks now, and frankly, I’m having a blast playing the show.

Involved with our production is a youth choir from the region, many of whom are from Christian homes.  It’s been interesting to see the different perspective of some of the parents.

One person sent an email out to their homeschool group mailing list telling people that, even though their child was involved in the production, they would not be inviting anyone to the performances.  And they pretty much gave the impression that they didn’t think other Christians should see the show, either.  They proceeded to explain how they felt the story was not faithful to the biblical account of Joseph, and how the treatment of the incident with Potiphar’s wife was very risque, etc.

Now, let me say up front that yes, it’s a rather suggestive scene.  But let’s face it — that’s pretty much what happened!  In fact, if I recall correctly, the Bible indicates that Joseph fled the scene less than clothed because he left his outer clothing in the hands of Potiphar’s wife!  In our staging of the show, Joesph gets his shirt ripped off, but that’s it! ;)

Now, contrast that with the discussion I had today at intermission with another mother of a child in the choir.  She, too, is a homeschooler and Christian, and she talked to me about how much she was really enjoying the show.

Without giving specifics, I mentioned the perspective of the other mother.  The response of this mother was, “People aren’t coming to Sunday School when they come to see the show.” In other words, why expect biblical accuracy when attending a play loosely based on a biblical story?  Why should that even be something we expect or demand?

That got me thinking about the two perspectives — and how much I can identify with the second response.  Rather than judge a non-Christian theatre for performing a play loosely based on a Bible story, I’d rather take advantage of a situation which can spark dialogue.  And believe it or not, I have actually been part of several interesting discussions in the green room with cast and crew about this show.

One position says, “Stay away” and the other says, “Let’s put this in perspective.”  My question is, if our tactic is to avoid, how do we possibly shine light into darkness?  How do we possibly show Christ to a world that so desperately needs to see him and experience his love?

Did Jesus avoid the world? I don’t see how we could possibly construe his actions as anything but rubbing shoulders with people who didn’t even know how much they needed him.  And I’ve said it many times before, but his harshest words were for those who thought they were doing God favors!

So, let’s not avoid the world around us.  Let’s engage those around us. Dialogue with them. Listen to them. And by all means, if they’re doing something that doesn’t seem right to you as a believer, be mindful of where they’re at!  Should we expect someone (or an organization) that is not rooted in Christ to be consistent with Christ in its actions?

I work in theatre.  I hear all kinds of language, the roughest of profanity.  I see all sorts of lifestyle choices.  There are many things that I would not choose for myself.  But I can be myself and maybe others will ask me for a reason for the hope that lies within me.

Until next time (whenever that may be!),

steve :)

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8 Responses to Engage. Don’t Avoid.

  1. Alan Knox says:

    Welcome back. :)

    There are two things (among many) that I’ve never understood: 1) Why Christians expect non-Christians to act like Christians… and 2) Why Christians don’t expect Christians (including themeselves) to act like Christ.

    -Alan

  2. Kansas Bob says:

    That email is so bizarre Steve.. of course these seem to be par for the course from fundamentalists.. she probably didn’t like DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” movie either.

    I loved Dreamcoat and think that it is great when bible stories are acted out like that.

    Kudos to you for being a positive influence in theater! I so appreciate your desire to engage folks in this area.

  3. Heather says:

    I have the same questions as Alan! I just don’t get that either!!

    You are right when you ask how are we to shine light in the darkness when we avoid it all together. I was reminded when reading the last couple of paragraphs of your post that Jesus definitely dialogued with and engaged, among others, the religious people of His day. I don’t recall that He avoided them simply because their lives were loosely based on Biblical truth.

    Enjoy Joseph! It’s a wonderfully fun play, which you already know :)

  4. Tony says:

    Hey Steve,

    Good point; I pray often that God help to “be in the world and not of the world.” Its sooooo easy for me to be “of” the world though and fail to let the Holy Spirit work through me to influence others for Him. It took me a while to realize though, that I don’t “lead” people to Christ; its by my living a Spirit-filled life they are attracted to Him!

  5. Page says:

    It seems that something like scales are falling from the collective churches eyes (or at least some of them ;-) ) and we are beginning to see that the church subculture is not the method Jesus chose to communicate the gospel. In fact, it was that same subculture that chose to kill him. Guess we shouldn’t be surprised with the same kind of spirit is still active today. I was part of that subculture for many years, but am hopeful that God is leading some of us out. Let’s keep pressing in to him. Thanks for your post.

  6. Andrew says:

    I will be auditioning for “Joseph” out here in Salt Lake next month… can’t wait.

    Your post is spot on.

  7. Teresa says:

    “It took me a while to realize though, that I don’t “lead” people to Christ; its by my living a Spirit-filled life they are attracted to Him!” – by Tony
    Wow. What an excellent comment!

  8. Glenn says:

    I think that the increased anxiety level among Christians is well placed. We should not be surprised that this is happening.

    I think the sixth seal is upon us. In the sixth seal there will be a great earthquake[social revolution], the sun is darkened[gospel hidden], and the moon becomes blood [law brings life/death], stars fall[messengers/teachers appear], the mountains[the religous/politcal powers] and islands[representative governments] were moved from their places[leadership turnover - proud leaders removed]…

    Here’s “My Read On Bible Prophecy”… See More
    http://thebigpicmin.wordpress.com/2010/01/16/my-read-on-bible-prophecy/

    I don’t think that we are headed for armageddon soon[probably in 2977], we are are headed for the fall of Babylon, a major shake-up. Babylon, the harlot church[our protestant and catholic churches] will suffer near complete destruction. The shepherds will be gone. Jer 23:2, Jer 25:34, the flocks scattered by his rod, by the beheaded saints.

    But remember, all who call on the Name of the Lord will be saved! Joel 2:32