Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jesus In A Pink Dress Overlooking The Grateful Dead, Part 1

At St. Louis' Mardi Gras celebration this year I found myself "missionally" checking out a Grateful Dead cover band. The venue was an old church in the process of being converted into a bar. The massive crowd, pushing and squeezing through the double doors longed not to hear about Jesus but "the Dead." "Hey, ya wanna take a shot," I was asked the moment I walked in. I declined. I'm too holy for "shots." As a devout Bible-thumping Jesus freak I pondered how this church became a bar? Then I saw it! I looked up and thought that maybe the church's death had something to do with the huge, pathetic mural of a sandy brown-haired Jesus wearing a pink dress.

Actually, it was a robe, but pink nonetheless. Seriously, in the mural Jesus was extending a slightly bent arm with a warm, soft hand to rescue Peter from drowning after failing to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33). However, Peter's arms and forearms were ripped like a Muscle and Fitness magazine cover model in need of a steroid detox program. Peter, another white dude, was a lot more masculine than Jesus. I didn't know that.
Why was Jesus a blonde-haired white guy wearing a pink dress?

The cornerstone of the church building read "Gravois Avenue Church of God, December 13, 1942." Sadly, some 65 years later the building was now packed full of alcohol abusing, weed-loving, sexually liberated "Dead-heads," surrounded by 6 Jesus freaks (me and my friends), listening to incredible musicians.
Will your church devolve into a music venue for cover bands in two generations?

I don't know which was worse the effeminate pink-dressed Jesus or the fact that this church is now a music venue that served cheap beer. At one point I wanted to interrupt the show, grab a microphone, and start preaching (like a good "bullhorn guy"): "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near! Hell is knocking at your door!" But then I realized that behind me would have been Jesus wearing a pink dress.

After my short sermon one of those hippie guys could have retorted, "Hey, Mr. black-guy-listening-to-Grateful-Dead-music-with-the-rest-of-us, the Kingdom of God is led by a dude in a pink dress?" The answer, of course, is "NO!!" The kingdom of God is led by a man who battled Satan and secured victory for his people (Matt. 10:34; 1 John 3:8).

Leon Podles, is his book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, laments the feminized Christianity of the pink-dressed Jesus: "Christianity is now seen as a part of the sphere of life proper to women rather than to men, it sometimes attracts men whose own masculinity is doubtful. By this I do not mean homosexuals . . . rather religion is a safe field, a refuge from the challenges of life and therefore attracts men who are fearful of making a break with the secure world of childhood dominated by women. These are men who have problems following the path of masculine development."

Maybe this church died because the men had no mission? They were never initiated into the masculine image of Christ and therefore never entered into the battle of local mission.

David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going To Church, reminds us that 61% of the average adult U.S. church attendance is women, 80% of attendees at midweek church activities are women, and 90% of boys raised in the church will abandon it by time they turn 20-years-old.

If you combine the image of Jesus in a pink dress with the soft-spoken, effeminate "sharing" that some churches call "sermons" by preachers/teachers who sound like one of the Teletubbies having confused words like "meek" and "gentle" with androgeny, we may understand how churches become bars: churches without the Gospel, and God-made masculine men, eventually die.

Pastor Teletubby stands up on Sunday in a quiet, non-offensive voice, whispering pink platitudes, after people sing a love ballad or two to a pink-dressed Jesus, instead of preaching the hard, painful, inviting, comforting, electrifying, liberating, convicting, offensive, loud, unraveling, authentic, transforming, truth of the Gospel of Jesus who alone empowers and enables his people to fight in the ancient redemptive mission of God to redeem the whole creation.

"Men are looking for a real man to follow: dynamic, outspoken, bold, sharp-edged. They want a leader who is decisive, tough, and fair. They respect a man who tells it like it is and doesn't mince words, even when it makes them mad. Men most respect a leader who doesn't care what others think of him," says Murrow. Satan is real, hell is real, people are dying, sin is alive, repentance is needed, healing is necessary and people need a Jesus who bears a sword and fights for them and men pursuing death for the same cause.

Pastor Teletubby, offering a pink-dressed Jesus, is not capable of leading a church into the gloriously dangerous sufferings of Gospel-driven local mission advancing the Kingdom of God "wherever the curse is found." More to come. . .

No comments: