Rockport Sermon

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Talladega Nights' Theology

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached,
or you receive a different spirit which you have not received,
or a different gospel which you have not accepted . . .
2 Corinthians 11:4

I recently saw a clip on You Tube of a scene from the movie Talladega Nights that was as funny as it was blasphemous. Certainly I don’t condone this movie or encourage anyone to watch it, but this scene did make what I thought was a very insightful theological point. In the movie, the main character, a goofy race car driver played by Will Ferrell, is asked to say grace before the family meal and insists on praying to“the baby Jesus.” When his wife objects that Jesus "has grown up now" so it’s not appropriate to pray to him as a baby anymore, an argument breaks out. Soon every person at the table is giving their opinion about the kind of Jesus they like to think about – whether a teenaged Jesus, adult Jesus, casual or formal Jesus, even Ninja Jesus. As I say, the whole thing is quite blasphemous and frankly a little hard to watch as a believer, since they toss the Name I love best around so casually. But that’s just my point.

Here's my question. Why did this seem funny to those who made this movie? Could it be they have seen us as Christians carelessly tossing Jesus’ name around as we've tried to “market him” to the world? Could it be that we are the ones who first gave them the idea that Jesus can be made into anything you’d like Him to be when we attempted to make him seem “cool” and “relevant” to them? Aren’t we the ones who put his name and his supposed likeness on T-shirts and caps and posters and yard signs, and treated him more like a brand name to be sold than the Name above every Name to whom every knee should bow and every tongue confess that ‘Jesus is Lord?’ I think that’s the most important theological message behind this scene in Talladega Nights.

It makes me wonder just how the world perceives Him, based on what they see in us. What will our children think of Jesus, based on what they've see us doing and heard us saying about Him? And are we really preaching the Gospel, or just marketing a product called "Jesus"? I hope you who honor His Name as I do, will join me in thinking this through.

Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites.
I am the LORD, who makes you holy
Leviticus 22:32

"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
Ezekiel 36:21-22

"My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel;
and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore.
And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
Ezekiel 39:7

"It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy.
And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.
Isaiah 8:13


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more Scott, I have always thought that "Taking the Lords name in Vain" had more to do with how those who claim to represent him act than it does to do with vocabulary.