What Our Response Reveals…

Regardless of where I’ve travelled in the world, I’ve found people to be self-centered and opinionated.  I find this is especially true whenever I look in the mirror.

Because of this selfishness our opinions generally begin in a place that considers our own viewpoint first and most important.

The more mature we are the more often our opinions become informed by perspectives outside our own frame of reference.

It’s quite rare that a self-centered opinion isn’t offensive, often because human beings like to be taken into consideration when opinions are being formed and expressed… even if they don’t often take others into consideration themselves.

All of this self-focus places us into circumstances where personal opinions compete for the attention of an audience of people; sometimes in just a room full of people, other times in front of an entire nation.

Because no one can perfectly share our perspective, or our self-regard, going through life without getting offended is impossible.  As Christians, our job is to have a godly response in those moments when someone says, or does, something that we don’t like or agree with.

This weekend the cast of Saturday Night live expressed their opinions about “Tebowmania” in a sketch that featured Jesus Christ making a post-game appearance to the Broncos in their locker room.  While taking credit for the Bronco victory and inferring that Bill Belicheck was the devil, Jesus took some time out to tell Tebow to “tone it down” and add “studying the playbook” to “studying the good book”.

There were plenty of funny moments.

While having light-hearted fun with the subject matter, they did reveal some specific opinions about the efficacy of religion in a sporting context like:

God shows up where people “pray the most”.
God is embarrassed by our enthusiasm.
If we apply ourselves more, God has less work to do.

While some were delighted with the skit, others  found it offensive.  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Pat Robertson was deeply offended.  Robertson said the comedy sketch is part of “the anti-Christian bigotry in this country that’s just disgusting.”

While I’ll defend Robertson’s right to be offended by an irreverent portrayal of Jesus, I feel the need to point out that his response is more offensive to me than the skit was.

“If this had been a Muslim country and they had done that and had Muhammad doing that stuff, you would have found bombs being thrown off and bodies on the street,” – Pat Robertson

This is a selfish opinion that considers his own viewpoint the most important.

While I understand that Robertson is trying to make the point that Christians shouldn’t stand for irreverent portrayals of Jesus, his response reveals much about what he believes in the same way that SNL did.

Let’s just say that I agree with his assertion that Muslims would set off bombs and put bodies in the street… we all understand that this is an incorrect response to persecution right?

Isn’t this behavior what he typically condemns from the Muslim community?  Why would we attempt to draw any parallel in this situation?

While it would be difficult to prove that the SNL skit constitutes “disgusting anti-Christian bigotry”, let’s assume that it actually is the kind of persecution that Robertson asserts.  For 2000 years, Christians have defined martyrdom as a gracious response in the face of persecution.

Where is the grace in his response?

Isn’t his response actually a backhanded compliment against people who had nothing to do with the SNL skit?

When our response to a perceived attack is to attack an uninvolved party, we demonstrate that we feel powerless against our oppressor and that someone else must pay for our impotence.

This why men take their anger with their bosses out on their wives,

And wives take their anger with their husbands out on their children,

And children take their anger with their parents out on their friends,

and dogs end up getting kicked for it all.

People who feel the way that Robertson apparently does place targets on people who feel they are “more powerful than”.  In an effort to relieve their frustrations they respond to offense by creating more offensive situations.

In contrast, Christians who follow Jesus in word and deed have spent millenia choosing to die before kicking someone else.  This is how Jesus lived when he faced actual persecution and death for believing that grace is the Godly response to offense.

The Grace of God, which we posses, was powerful enough to break the power of sin and the certainty of death.  It was powerful enough to forgive the debt of offense that mankind owed to its creator.

Isn’t it also greater than the self-centeredness of personal opinion?

We are not powerless.

We have God’s Grace.

Let’s live like we believe that.


15 Responses to “What Our Response Reveals…”

  1. Jesse December 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Thanks for the take on this Jon. I actually thought the skit was pretty funny, and considering the venom that has been put forth about Tebow I thought the skit was pretty tame. I even found it to be pretty funny even as a Christian. I mean we know that God doesn’t really act like that and even Tebow has acknowledged as much, but sometimes we forget and think that is the way God should act.
    We start thinking, you know this family has had it so hard, why doesn’t God just step in and fix them, or so and so just can’t get their life together, why can’t God just swoop in and “kick that extra point”.

    • Jon December 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

      Dude, good call. I love the analogy of the extra point at the end. Great stuff here Jesse.

  2. Andy Schreiber December 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    I honestly didn’t think that the skit was mean-spirited at all.

    If someone has a beef with Jesus being portrayed on screen at all or even because it was in a flippant way, I can at least understand that.

    (Or even the little dig at the end about Mormonism being true.)

    But I thought they treated Tebow with kid gloves. I doubt that he was offended at all.

    The cool thing is that this supposedly not-ready-for-the-NFL player was featured prominently in a skit by the not-ready-for-prime-time players and has been the focus of a million other stories in the media. And his faith (not just football) in the Savior has been a big part of that story.

    I hope the kid just keeps on winning (and just doing it in the 4th quarter!).

    • Jon December 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      I agree Andy. If anybody should be offended it’s the Mormons… that bit at the end wasn’t nearly as “tease oriented” as the rest of the skit.

      It’s fun to watch Tebow defy the odds.

  3. Leslie D. Martin December 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Perhaps I am being too generous, but I don’t think the point of Pat Robertson’s comparison to how Muslims would have responded was intended to suggest that Christians should behave the same way. We’ve all had those ‘why don’t you pick on someone your own size’ moments when we’ve seen a bully who will pick on smaller, younger, less powerful, but doesn’t have the guts (or at least has enough cowardice) not to pick on someone when it might be a fair fight and the bully faces the possibility of loosing. I think was more the intent of Robertson’s response, albeit perhaps presented in his typically awkward manner. I suspect his attempt was to point out the cowardice of the SNL folks in that they will only insult those who they believe won’t respond or whose response can be used as an additional means of insulting them; they will only attack when they are reasonably certain they are safe from the danger of a significant response. But they are not willing to be ‘equal opportunity bigots’, refusing to say or do anything that might be construed as an insult to Muslims, Islam or Muhammad;, knowing the response would be knives, guns and bombs aimed at them.

    Or perhaps I am giving credit where none is due.

    • Jon December 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

      In my experience with SNL I’ve seen them take the opportunity to poke fun at anything that is in the headlines or that they believe is taking itself too seriously. -Especially so when the subject has the power to fight back.

      Don’t forget that they spent 8 years lampooning both of the Clintons and Janet Reno in ways that make Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin seen nice (they never accused her of being a man).

      They went after Islamic Terrorists after 911 (Huzbin Pharteen?) and they’re always on top of their game when it comes to reaming NBC.

      I don’t think that Robertson was suggesting that we bomb anybody, which is why I think using Islam in any sort of parallel was a bad idea.

      Using an opportunity to demonstrate grace in the face of his offense as an opportunity to assert that “Muslims blow up people who offend them” is pretty inexcusable for any leader, let alone a Christian one.

      • Leslie D. Martin December 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

        I dunno. To me, watching the SNL crowd ‘taking on’ fellow leftists is a bit like watching a ‘professional wrestling match’. It looks messy, viscous and out of control, but you know in your heart that it’s really just a choreographed show and that after it’s all over, all the participants go down to the corner pub for a friendly beer, a game of darts and a shared laugh at anyone who believed it was even remotely real.

        Or maybe that’s just me.

        • Jon December 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

          I’d love to encourage you to not think about life in terms of “leftist” vs. “rightist” plot threads.

          • Leslie D. Martin December 23, 2011 at 9:44 am #

            Let’s just say, “I think that not thinking of political issues as political issues, and not thinking of political issues in terms of left or right and not thinking of ‘left’ and ‘right’ a fruit of one’s beliefs would be a mistake,”, and leave it there.

            • Jon December 23, 2011 at 11:09 am #

              Actually Leslie, leaving it there would be a mistake. There is a tremendous difference between conservative politics and righteousness. I encouraged you to not think in terms of Left vs. Right because that actually keeps us from thinking in terms of righteousness vs. unrighteousness.

              I’m sure you would agree with me that neither the left nor the right is righteous.

              When the issue of righteousness is boiled down to political left versus right (which nearly all of your posts on my blog seem to be) we can end up defending the unrighteous behavior of people “on our side”, instead of calling people to to righteousness as defined by Jesus.

              Which actually happpened in this thread.

              Assuming that I am “on the right” because I am a Christian, wouldn’t someone who is “on the left” use your wrestling analogy to prove how I’m really in bed with Pat Robertson on this issue… since I’m really on his side anyway?

              Partisanship poisons the mind of Christians in the same way that it does non Christians, regardless of political affiliation. Our allegiance is not to a party, or a fiscal or foreign policy, but to Jesus Christ.

              The reason I said that “I’d love to encourage you…” is because I actually do care about you and the amount of rhetorical, derogatory statements you make about politics, whenever the opportunity arises concerns me.

              I’m asking you to consider what that looks from from a frame of reference outside your own? We aren’t powerless against a liberal agenda or leftist conspiracy, unless we think that criticism and condemnation are more powerful than grace.

  4. Kevin Elwell December 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I love that you wrote about the SNL skit. When I watched the skit I immediately thought it was great that Tebow, his faith, and even Jesus were getting so much ‘play’ in the media. It makes for good conversation with my unchurched friends. I always like seeing our culture’s perspective on things like Tebow and his faith, and it certainly allows opportunity to seek the opinion of my unchurched friends. “What do you think about Tebow?” is such an easy bridge towards conversation about faith and life.

    I also immediately thought the skit would offend a lot of people. But the ‘offense’ is itself a bridge towards conversation with believers and their views about the relationship between faith preservation and engaging into culture.

    The skit/Tebow is opportunity to converse with people about authentic faith.

  5. Jon December 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    So true Kevin, We only get so many opportunities. This one is almost too good to be true!

  6. Jesse December 22, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    The plot thickens…

    Now it looks like SNL wants Tebow to host… They have had Tom Brady and Petyon Manning on before and they both did well. I just worry that Tim wouldn’t want to put himself in that situation.

    • Jon December 22, 2011 at 10:36 am #

      If I’m being honest, I’ve never seen him be very funny… unlike Peyton who almost can’t help it.

      • Jesse December 22, 2011 at 10:38 am #

        Peyton’s United Way skit is one of the best I have seen from SNL in a while.

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