In my last post I said I would use this one to explain why it’s good that 50 Shades of Grey is out there. I’m going to do that, but first I want to make something very clear so that I don’t get loads of hate mail. Of course this movie is not good and it will not be in Heaven. It would be far better if the pursuit of righteousness was embraced by all and sin no longer reigned in anyone’s heart. That just isn’t the world we live in (for now), and so there are aspects of this movie coming out and the buzz about it that will help the Kingdom of God grow and expand if Christians seek it out.
In the classic movie Monsters Inc., there is a scene where Sully is being attacked by Randall who is invisible. After some clever banter with Mike, Mike throws a snowball at Sully, hitting Randall who know becomes visible. Sully, much more powerful than Randall, slugs him and knocks him out now that he can be seen.
When we encounter something that is a social phenomenon based entirely on sin, it can be like a snowball on Randall’s invisible chameleon body. We finally get a look at just what it is we’re fighting so we can slug it. Of course our mission isn’t to go slug everyone who sees this movie or reads the book, but it does help us target the Gospel much more clearly. When everyone lives their respectably moral lives in their respectable homes with their respectable families the lines between believers and unbelievers are much less clear. This is especially a problem for evangelism in the South and Midwest where the cultural expectation is linked to popular moral virtue.
Helps us show people their true hope
Galatians 5:19-21 says that the works of the flesh are “evident”, that is they can be seen. When people are busy covering up their works of the flesh not only is it harder for us to see them but it’s harder for them. Many people adjust their lives to account for just so much lust or greed or deception, and when they get past their normal levels even their seared consciences will start to bother them.
Imagine the conversation you can have with someone who wants to talk about 50 Shades with you. You can ask why they decided to see it. You can talk about whether their expectations were met and how it changed or challenged their preconceived notions. That line of discussion helps you ask about where they got their preconceived notions, their worldview and their greatest hopes. The fact that they had an expectation indicates they had hoped for something when they went. How does that line up with, or illustrate their greatest hope? Their answers may surprise you, but they may also surprise them. Passively giving into heart cravings and actively discussing them are two different things.
Fewer excuses for Christians
Another application of Gal 5:19 – 21 is that works of the flesh are evident, meaning Christians have plenty of evidence that America is not a Christian nation. Hopefully we already understood that, but if we didn’t this movie is perhaps the barometer of sorts from the comment I cited yesterday. I don’t bemoan that many Christians are late to the battle, I rejoice that because of this movie many are awakened by the bugle for perhaps the very first time. It ought to be obvious by now that the struggles our brothers and sisters in Europe have been having for decades have been on our shores a while.
Here’s a news flash for my happy suburban middle class evangelical Christian brothers and sisters. If this movie makes $100m, it will be primarily your neighbors and not mine that made it happen. We cannot look at the popularly of stuff like this and pretend that it is an anomaly. While some Christians will undoubtedly mistakenly see this movie, the droves of people who go desperately need Christ and they live next door to you. What are you doing to reach them? Are you praying for them as fervently as you are promoting boycott messages on Facebook? If the movie helps suburban consumeristic Christians to remember that we are in a battle and in enemy territory then I’m happy for it.
Highlights our hope
Christians have a lot of hobby horses, and many of them are worthwhile. The problem with homeschooling, organic food, classical education, and adoption is that they will not save anyone from the wrath of God. Neither will boycotts and protests aimed at people on their way to hell doing what people on their way to hell want to do. If the thoughts of this movie produce in you a desire to protest something more than a desire to pray then I would say you may have your hope set on the wrong savior. We don’t long for a day when bad movies don’t exist, we long for a day when Jesus is treasured in every heart. I hope that describes you, dear reader, and I hope it is evident to all in your interactions with others regarding 50 Shades.