I was perusing my twitter feed today, reading a bit from folks who’d been enjoying the madness that is Comic-Con when I came across this:
I was a bit surprised, having never been to Comic-Con (I missed my one chance when I was in Los Angeles a few years ago. I still regret not going). Christian protestors? What’s this all about? And so I went to Mr. Google to ask him what was going on, and I found this surprisingly kind and evenly-told story over at Verge.com:
I was surprised, but not, to find that a variety of Christians feel led to stand outside the pop culture beast that is Comic-Con to try and share the Gospel. It makes sense, considering that you have a huge captive audience of largely unchurched youth who are heavily invested – can I say obsessed? – in and with the entertainment culture. I do believe that God calls some to be street preachers, and I have heard some really good ones in my day, who are able to communicate the offensive message of the Gospel in a way that is well-received by some who have open hearts. However, as I read this story, I found myself thinking…
There we go again.
It’s that Christian perception problem, rearing its ugly head once more.
Why does it happen? Why do Christians – who represent the amazing and fantastic Good News of Jesus Christ – come across to much of the world as being hate-filled, small-minded, and (as the Verge writer said) showing the ugliest of faces? Yes, the idea that we all sin can be offensive. Yes, the idea that we need a savior, and that Jesus is the only savior can be offensive. Yes, the idea that hell is real and many people are going there can be offensive. But does that mean that we have to be offensive? There are many adjectives I would use to describe Jesus (who Christians are supposed to emulate), but offensive is not one of them. And yet so many Christians think that it is their calling to offend, by being hateful, small-minded, and ugly in situations like the one described by the writer of the Verge article.
As I was reading this article, I started thinking that it’s sad because there were plenty of Christians in attendance at Comic-Con. But these Christians were not having any articles written about them. They were not making obnoxious noise for Jesus. They are just quietly toiling away for their faith.
From the inside of Comic-Con.
I thought that it was sad that we aren’t reading stories about these Christians, because I know they are there. They are writing movies that they want to premiere at a future Comic-Con. They are creating new comic books that they’d love to have featured on the floor. They are plotting novels that would be read by the multitudes that attend. They have the same goals as the guys standing outside with their signs and their tracts, but they have invested their lives to impact not only the crowds at Comic-Con, but the culture at large.
But then I started feeling less sad about this, because of the cool, unspoken, unwritten-about thing about these men and women: they are being much more effective than the ones who are standing outside, holding signs and handing out tracts. They are living the same lives of the youth attending the pop culture beast that is Comic-Con, to a point. They walk beside those youth on a daily basis, at work, in their neighborhood coffee house, on the internet. They understand them because they love the movies, they are just as excited about the trailers being revealed, they are also willing and enthusiastically standing in the long lines for the opportunity to hear the stars talk about where their favorite shows are going, just like the youth the ones outside are trying to reach.
I want to take a moment and celebrate those quiet Christians at Comic-Con who are walking the floor, buying the merch, wanting the autographs, trying to network, because they deserve to be encouraged and supported. They are the ones who are presenting the offensive message of Christ in a way that the Comic-Con youth can receive, and they deserve our prayer and our respect.
And I hope that they get that movie made, and that it finds a huge audience at a future Comic-Con, and I can’t wait to stand in line to hear them talk about it, if I ever get a chance to attend again.
And my novel, Thimblerig’s Ark, will be available for 99 cent download from July 29 to July 31. Please give Thimblerig a try!