This weekend, a Christian film premiered in theaters. Before it, radio companies, churches and the like promoted this film through ads, word of mouth and the internet. Not long before that, another Christian film hit theaters, which again was heavily advertised.
I don’t know where it comes from in my sphere of influence, maybe you can identify it in yours, but there is a pressure to support anything and everything with a Christian label on it. Buy this book, see this movie, support this cause.
I used to sit in the chapel of my school, listening to visiting pastors, speakers, missionaries and innovators. Quite often, they had recently released a book and this was another stop on their tours. If there talk was compelling or they were familiar to the audience, students would rush down after chapel to buy a book, get their autograph and meet them. I did it myself quite a few times. But because this happened so frequently, this mingling as we students listened to the captivating words of a speaker, in an event I was required to attend, I noticed how often these words were crafted to gain a response. To open hearts up to the Holy Spirit’s prompting through examples and stories and showing just how much you or someone else needed the help.
When missionaries would come, very often we’d see videos of a poor country and its people from a recent trip students and/or faculty had taken. We’d be encouraged to donate to the sister organization of our school. To sign up for a missions trip to partner. During concerts that came to the school, we’d be encouraged to partner with another organization to sponsor children.
And you know, none of these things are bad, really. But the voices kept coming and coming and begging me to do something. There were days where I’d feel so overwhelmed because it seemed that everyone wanted me to do something. Everyone felt it was my responsibility to do something as a Christian. And I couldn’t. I wasn’t called into missions and didn’t wish to participate in another trip. I didn’t have the money to sponsor a child when I could barely afford attending the expensive college. I was not registered to vote in that state and for that candidate.
It’s so hard to find quiet and peace in the midst of the noise. And it’s hard for deep feelers, like me, to cope knowing how great needs really are. This isn’t a piece to minimize the real needs, because they are there and they are real. But in the middle of the noise, it’s easy to lose a sense of what it’s really all about. The good intentions get lost in a cry to go and do and help. Voices will tell you how you are obligated to help because of commands in sacred texts.
As a member of Evangelical home schooling groups and youth groups and circles, I witnessed quite a few people growing up slamming Catholics because of their stance on works–how they’re misreading the Bible because our salvation doesn’t require works. And yet, I feel at odds with them, because look at what they do, when they go out of their way to promote Christian movies or politicians or television or whatever. Then they look me in the eyes and wonder why I don’t do the same. It’s not because a cause is bad, but I do not want this to become a work I am compelled to keep.
Now I use my voice to stand and say, I cannot do it all. I cannot support everything and will not. Just because something bears the label of Christian does not mean that by my choice of religion I am obligated to support it. I hope that as a Christian, the Spirit will guide you and me to support whatever we wish, to be equipped to support it. But I fear what happens when the good is drowned out by so much noise. I don’t want to fall under the weight of something I was never meant to hold.