A few summers ago, I watched an interesting reality show on NBC called Last Comic Standing. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s cancelled now, but I enjoyed it when it ran.
Its format was pretty much like any other reality show in that a million people try out, and the group is eventually whittled down to the top twelve. In this case, they’re trying out to be a stand up comic. The top twelve are all thrown together in a house, they’re given specific comedy challenges, a few of them get promiscuous in the hot tub, America votes, and they get eliminated one-by-one until it’s the last comic standing. Clever, huh?
Well, the specific season I saw happened to include a top twelve participant that was actually a duo who called themselves “God’s Pottery.” Essentially, the two guys in the duo played out these characters (much like Sacha Baron Cohen played the character Borat) both in the house and on stage who were supposed to be examples of syrupy sweet Christian camp counselors.
What they were doing was interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as far as I could tell from the footage that was actually used on the show, God’s Pottery never broke character. They constantly acted out this annoying pair of evangelicals who would always look at the brighter side of life while smiling and waving to rocks, trees, dogs, and parked cars. Not once did I see them talk to another person in a normal tone or even make a sandwich without praising the Lord.
Secondly, their entire comedy act on stage was just an exaggerated example of what they believed a real Christian was. They didn’t tell jokes, they didn’t have funny stories or banter, and they didn’t even wear normal clothes. Their whole shtick was a mockery of the average American believer. After coming on stage and exclaiming to the audience, “Celibacy rocks!” they would sing kid-praise-type songs on the guitar and get the crowd involved by having them clap their hands and high-five their neighbor if they were saved. Needless to say, they were one of the first to be voted out of the top twelve because they were more tiresome than funny.
I find it disheartening that this is what a lot of people out there think Christians are like. God’s Pottery was ‘funny’ enough to make it to the top twelve on this show by living out a ridiculous parody of the American Christ-follower and I didn’t see one person object to the false stereotype.
Now, was it unfair of God’s Pottery to generalize every Christian into the irritating and happy-go-lucky characters they played while participating on Last Comic Standing? Of course it was…but that’s not really why I decided to tell you this happened. I gave you this example to help you understand that most people out there misunderstand.
A lot of individuals believe Christians are bothersome screwballs who happily try to convert everyone in their path, all the while not knowing they are really just coming across as the pesky pop-up ad people want to immediately click away from. If you know this might be how your efforts to connect with others are received, don’t you want to change that? I certainly do.
There are probably several missing ingredients in our “changing the false perception” formula. But I’m convinced that the main thing we’re lacking is discernment.
What we say and how we say it are of utmost importance, but when we say it is of equal value. The time to tell your friend that God works for the good of those who love Him is not right after a close relative of theirs has passed away.
Yes, non-Christians can be insensitive when it comes to their views on what they think we are like, but let’s not give them more ammunition for that unfair assumption by being insensitive ourselves and trying to shoehorn the gospel into their lives at inappropriate times. Yes, they need Jesus. Yes, they need to place their faith in Him in order to experience real life, unconditional love, and acceptance. And yes, it is extremely important to share the gospel. But when you proclaim the gospel at the wrong time and place, you become the pretentious radio DJ that everyone loathes but who still calls himself “your boy” in his on-air monologues.
When it comes to the listening ears of this generation, how, when, where, and why we share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our shortcomings is just as important as actually saying it. Discernment is a quality that a ton of Christians lack, and this must stop if we are going to be effective in communicating the truth that can and will change people’s lives.