Offending Jesus: The Christian Response
To celebrate seven years of success, Chapel Bar in Aucklund, New Zealand, did what any respectable establishment would have done.
They reduced the crucifixion of Christ to a pizza-fueled sexual escapade.
Nothing says We’ve made it, like a bit of old-fashioned sacrilege. I saw this image on Buzzfeed with the caption, “If you’re a devout Christian, prepare to get your knickers knotted.” Naturally, I clicked. As a Christian, I have to admit I was offended. Turning the perfect image of agony and grace into a shameless sexual innuendo is pushing the envelope a little far, in my opinion. Consider the context.
Imagine an ad agency turning the slaughtering of Native Americans, or the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. into an edgy ad for potato chips.
How about a billboard for the Fall opening of a coffee shop featuring a sad-faced scarecrow hanging on a fence, mimicking the brutal death of Matthew Shepard? Why not a few Holocaust jokes commemorating the anniversary of a local bakery?
Because no one would laugh at that, at least not out loud, for fear of social exile. There would be riots and rallies and boycotts, understandably so.
And if a Christian organization dared to dabble in such behavior there would be blood in the proverbial streets.
But in reverse, when aimed at the perennial scapegoat, Jesus Christ, it’s just a little risque humor, taboo to ruffle a few feathers. Why so serious?
The blatant double standard is almost embarrassing, but it isn’t new. So, how should Christians respond to this?
No phone calls to Chapel Bar. No e-mails to Ogilvy New Zealand (the ad agency responsible), demanding that they remove the offensive advertisement. No law suits or threats of legal action in defense of the Lord. And no Facebook posts about how the world is headed straight for hell in a gas-soaked hand basket.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. (Matthew 5:11)
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:17)
Jesus telegraphed this long ago. People have and will always hate the message of Christianity. The Son of God will always be a joke to some.
The message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Jesus didn’t tell his followers to fight fire with fire; there was no plan of attack. He simply said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” In fact, the scriptures go as far as to say, “Be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings.”
Christians who go on the offensive, attempting to silence controversial messages, inadvertently silence themselves. If one group loses the right to free speech, eventually every group does. Not everyone enjoys seeing a cross looming over the expressway or a billboard declaring God’s unending love for humanity. And that’s ok.
An ad for a bar in Auckland, New Zealand, does nothing to detract from the message of love that millions of people have laid down their lives for. The cross is still the most controversial symbol in history.
What do you think? Join the discussion below.
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Photo Credit: slimmer_jimmer (Creative Commons)
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