“Interesting” lives in an extremely small room with “annoying.” It is impossible to separate them as they are conjoined twins worthy of their own circus. Yet, our tendency is to try to stick them in a formaldehyde filled specimen jar. While this mutes annoying, it kills interesting.
People want a spectacle, but they don’t want to get any of it on them. Maybe this is why singing and dancing TV shows have had longevity. You are allowed to both hate and love them without any commitment. Sure, there are other mitigating factors, but ultimately, those factors pale in comparison to plausible deniability: “Yes, it is a stupid show, but did you hear that guy sing?!?!” Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of “fans” (fanatics…that is where the word comes from), but there aren’t enough “fans” to make it profitable. These shows are successful because of the masses willing to watch without admitting commitment.
When people accept that Firefly was the best show ever created for TV, they have to defend their position. There is no way to both recognize its greatness and speak against it at the same time (Well…country music isn’t good. In a demonstration of incredibly poor taste, Joss wrote a country music theme song for Firefly. Unfortunately, this is why the show was canceled). The greater point is that the esoteric can repulse as well as attract.
Hiding in plain sight is the conundrum that freezes everyone in their tracks. The problem is constructed from two separate equations:
Which spectacle do I associate with?
How do I modulate my own spectacle to achieve a desired end?
We waste enormous amounts of time trying to decide who or what to align ourselves with:
“I can’t wear that t-shirt! The slogan will get me thrown out of church!”
“If I say I like that type of music, everyone will assume I have the intellectual capacity of a gnat.”
We also waste many opportunities while we attempt to modulate the level of spectacle we wish to achieve:
Did you speak up the last time you saw someone mistreat their child in public?
How much did you drink at the company party?
My particular interest is in how this plays out with regard to our faith. You can not be a follower of Jesus without being a spectacle. You have no mandate to be a repulsive spectacle, but you are required to be a spectacle none the less: “let your light shine before others.”
I have seen people announce their faith in an effort to spite the listener. That is foolish! That is not evangelism; it is an insult. Believing that Jesus is God is a blessing, not a weapon. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” Here is our mission: “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”
It doesn’t matter where you are in your life. It doesn’t matter how you have affiliated yourself previously. Every person who believes that Jesus is God should be telling every other person about their faith. Believers will understand if you feel compelled to tell them your story – even if they are solid in their faith and even if they have heard your story ten times. Self-righteous believers are irrelevant, so don’t feel the need to pander to them. And, finally, non-believers need to hear your story because you may be the one person capable of presenting the Gospel in a way that the listener will understand.
We can try to sin less – as a matter of fact, we are to do our best to live as God requires – but we will fail. If you disagree with me your theology is inaccurate (don’t start yelling because there is no one there to hear…and besides, you know what you are guilty of: “For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”). Even when you are successfully abstinent for a day, you will eventually fall, or you will fall to self-righteousness. Either way, you serve the same source because neither position serves others.
Regardless, we won’t fail at evangelism…because it is not about us. We don’t have to be good at it. We don’t have to be accepted by the listener. We must do it with honesty, integrity and love for the hearer. However, consider this, even if we make mistakes, Jesus approves of the effort.
Not to undermine my effort here, but if we fail to even attempt this, we are still forgiven…we’re also much more boring. The jury is still out on the “annoying” part – maybe you and I are just plain annoying no matter how we spin it.
Evangelism is the only useful (and fun) thing you will ever attempt. You lose nothing if you associate yourself with the one spectacle that matters. And, I promise, you will be both more interesting and annoying if you make a spectacle of yourself for Jesus.