Francis Chan and “The Blind Side”

On Sunday nights, some of our youth have been working through a video series by Francis Chan called “Crazy Love” based on the book of the same title.   In chapter 4, Chan turns up the heat in the book, going after what he calls “lukewarm” Christianity (other terms like “cheap grace” (per Bonhoeffer) mentality might also work).  He gives a list of many different attitudes and actions that characterize “lukewarmness” along with relevant Scriptures for one to chew on.  For our study, we split into smaller groups and had the youth themselves come up with real-world examples to correspond with the profiles they were given.

To me, one stood out though, because something I had been chewing on for a while illustrated Chan’s point well.

from the book:

“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act.  They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones.  Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.”

I immediately thought of the success this past year of the sports film “The Blind Side”, based on the true story of NFL rookie Michael Oher.  (I know there are some criticisms with the type of charity portrayed in the film, but I want to leave that aside for now.) The movie made more than $200 million dollars domestically.  I wonder though how many people watching had that same reaction as Chan describes above.  “Wow. That family really helped out that kid.  What a nice thing to do”, they say, as they put away their $25 popcorn/soda combo box.

I wonder how many Christians would rather spend their time and resources being entertained and emotionally moved by stories of sacrifice on the big screen than creating their own stories of sacrifice.  I wonder what other kids needing adoption or villages needing wells might have benefited more from that $200 million dollars than the movie studio.  (And that doesn’t even include DVD sales.)

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Is football worse than dog-fighting?

Malcom Gladwell addresses the unseen similarities of the two in an essay focusing on the long-term head injuries professional football players sustain.

I often feel challenged as a follower of Christ reading things like this.  How much do our entertainment preferences create and sustain systems of behavior that might have a seemingly harmless effect on our lives but are downright devastating to those involved?  Do the Christian women who watched “Jon and Kate” or bought their book at LifeWay share somehow in that family’s demise?  Does my Sunday afternoon passion of watching grown men dress up in costumes and fight over a dead pig destroy lives?  Are my “safe” entertainment choices anything but?