Several friends forwarded the congratulatory email they received from American Family Association President Donald E.Wildmon. The missives were probably to taunt me because I disagreed with the whole campaign. “Because of your efforts, NBC cancels Book of Daniel”, the message read, “The sponsors dropped the program. NBC then decided it didn’t want to continue the fight.”
That is the most excitement I can generate over that news. My take on the show was it was a cultural open door to engage unchurched people in real discussions about Christianity and particularly Jesus. The hip and not very helpful Jesus of the show was a great starting point for some discussions if have had over the past month with unsuspecting viewers. Now the watercooler talk turns to how Christians want to censor television and have no sense of humor. If you have an apologetic defense for that please let me know. I don’t.
So we won the battle. My question is simple. Was this a battle worth fighting?
Historians will tell you that World War II would likely have been very different if Hitler had focused on the most important battle being waged in Western Europe. When he divided his forces to take on Russia he effectively lost both. I wonder if we have divided our forces and weakened the effort by trying to redeem the culture. I know our country is a mess. I understand the concern that parents and Christians have over the crap that is on television, radio, CD’s, videogames, and movie screens. We quote Scripture about the evils of sin and apply that to the culture. But I keep getting reminded that Paul’s letters were not for the anchors at CNN (Corinth News Network) to read off the papyrus prompter or for the Athens Daily Scribe to print. Those warnings were for the church. For you and me. The followers of Jesus.
We may win battles like getting the Book of Daniel off the air although I still submit that show was committing suicide. I am pretty sure NBC didn’t continue the fight because the show sucked. We may hurt the box office sales of End of the Spear by making the cast the issue and not the message. But I would suggest that the evangelical community needs to pray about what battles matter in a really important war for the souls of a hurting world. The real battle we need to be fightling is for older followers of Christ to take the time to mentor young Christians. The battle is to find Christians willing to sacrifice a little time to invest in the lives of children at church and during the week. The battle is caring enough to watch the back door of our assemblies to see who is leaving in pain and following them like the shepherd left the ninety-nine to redeem the one. The battle is loving people like Jesus even when it is messy, inconvenient, and with no guarantee of results. The real battle is awakening an evangelical community that gives an embarrassingly small percentage of the amazing material blessing most of us have received. The real battle is rolling up our sleeves and helping the poor, the aged, the helpless, and the outcasts. The Christians in this country could significantly alter most of the social ills in America if we tithed our treasure and time. But it is far easier to denigrate than disciple. Much more natural to complain than care. An email boycott does not take much of my valuable time while trying to save a broken life or marriage does. I know some Christians are doing both. But if you are making a choice of how to impact this culture I would suggest that you follow the example of the Lord Jesus and try to redeem your neighbor before the culture. Jesus was never surprised when sinners sinned. He did not angrily attack sin in the pagan marketplace. That happened only in the temple. He was gentle with sinners while strongly condemning their sin. But following His example means ceding control of my life. One of favorites singer/writers was Rich Mullins. His words from the song “Hold Me Jesus” never fail to move me.
Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
I’m singing hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace?
So we won a battle.
We will never have to “not watch” the Book of Daniel again. But the war wages around us. And our battle plan is flawed. Help us Jesus to fight the right battles. May I suggest this as a starting point for your battle plan?
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28, NIV)