In case you feel lost, these are questions having to do with LOST - a popular TV show on ABC. While I enjoyed the finale that was on just a couple of weeks ago, I have really enjoyed talking with people about it.
Me: "Do you guys watch any TV?"
Them: "Yeah... we're fans of Lost."
Me: "Me, too."
Me: (to self) "What does that mean? Once? Twice? Weekly?"
Them: "It's a pretty crazy show... I really like it."
Me: "Me, too... it makes me think, which I really enjoy. Most shows on TV I can predict what will happen, but this one always leaves my brain a bit wrinkled."
Them: "Mine, too."
Me: (to self) "I wonder if this person knows much more beyond what's on the TV Guide cover this week."
Me: "One of my favorite characters is Jack... I really identify with the pressure he's under at times. Then again, I also love Hurley's ability to cut through stuff with an open attitude and sense of humor."
Them: "What about that creepy guy who leads the Others?"
Them: "Yeah, Ben."
Me: (to self) "Hmm... odd that such a die-hard watcher wouldn't know Ben's name - maybe I should taper back my comments to this level."
Them: "Right, I always want to call him Henry Gale because that's how he was first introduced in Season 2."
Me: (to self) "Nevermind that last thought - obviously I'm dealing with a die hard here."
Me: (out loud) "Oh, yeah... that was a great reveal over time."
Rung 4: "We can talk about what we don't know about the show."
Them: "So do you have any theories?"Again, I'm sure if you're not a fan of the show, I may have just made you feel LOST.
Me: "Everyone has a theory. So, yeah... I tend to stay anchored to a few ideas but feel comfortable asking questions and changing my mind along the way. That last episode really leaves you hanging, though, because you don't know where it will start next season. In previous cliffhangers you at least had that going for you."
Them: "What about that whole thing with Jacob? Or that guy with the eyeliner? Reminds me of a pirate. I wonder if he has anything to do with that slave ship that crashed on the island."
In fact, that's kind of my point. You see, while I was having that conversation there was another person involved who didn't know the show at all. He was doing his best to keep up, but really had to ask questions to keep up with the conversation.
"Ah, so they're on... an island? Like Survivor?"
"They crashed? Does anyone know why?"
"There's another group of people on the island? Are they good or bad?"
It got me thinking again about how much we can take for granted things in our conversation with others that unknowingly exclude those unfamiliar. We talk about that great camping trip "everyone went on" without realizing that there's someone in the room who didn't... or we start going into a cycle of dialogue with another person from a movie that only a few people in the room have seen... or we make grunting noises to another person and when another person gives us a puzzling look we say, "Sorry... it's an inside joke."
Just yesterday when our church gathered we actually had a marriage ceremony take place (yes, in the movie theater we meet in). Our worship leader and his fiance got hitched... and so we celebrated with them. This meant, of course, that we had a lot of visitors for the wedding. My favorite part of this was realizing how much we take for granted church terminology that they were unfamiliar with.
For instance, after the ceremony I heard things like, "That was a real nice... um... speech you did there." Another said, "You did a good job with that talking thing." My favorite was perhaps, "That was a real nice thought you shared. So what do you do full-time?"
And so I'd like to propose that my rung theory doesn't just apply to TV shows, but perhaps even within the church.
Rung 1: We both have had a church experience.
I've heard it said that many people today like Jesus but not the church. Jesus seems like a "cool dude," whereas the church seems like it's not quite like Him at times. Just this past week I hung out with a couple I'm doing pre-marital counseling with who pointed this out to me
Her: We're not religious people. I like Jesus and think He did some great miracles, but I'm not convinced that He was God. I have a whole problem with the way people make you feel guilty in the church and a lot of the empty rituals.
Him: I'm a bit of an agnostic myself. I have a hard time with the whole religious institution.
Me: Wow... thanks for sharing that. I'm not sure if you are expecting a certain reaction from me on this... so I'll give you one if you'd like just so we're clear.
Rung 2: We can talk about the concept of religion.
Me: I'm not into religion either, and I'm not sure that Jesus is. On this side of heaven we'll always have religion because a perfect God can't be completely figured out, but what's cool is that because Christianity is a relationship we can still journey with Him through Jesus Christ with clear steps.
Me: And just for the record, I'm still happy to serve you both and do your wedding.
Me: Would you give me a few minutes to tell you a little bit about Jesus, though, as I've grown to understand Him?
Me: I grew up loosely Catholic, and then got to a place where I had a problem with the church in general, too. Lots of nodding our heads on Sunday and then living rather loosely throughout the week. I even got to a place where I was feeling rather atheistic, too. Then in high school a friend invited me to his youth ministry and I had an amazing experience in realizing that God wanted to relate with me personally... not religiously. I don't know how to describe the difference except to say that I began to learn from the Bible that He loved me as I was and yet wanted to love me toward who I really am.
Both: (nodding, listening)
Me: So I trusted my life to Jesus. This was in high school, and I had a good run with that. After graduation, though, I went through another crisis of faith and began wondering if I'd just emotionally trusted in Jesus or if there was credibility to my faith. It's hard to sum this up, but after a year long journey of suspending all that I'd learned, I came to realize that history and archeology confirms Christianity in its purest form. The problem is that a lot of Christians don't always represent this... have you ever experienced that?
Me: So here's what I know... that God has revealed Himself in history as Jesus Christ. I know that's a hard swallow, but let's face it... even if Jesus were to be on Larry King tonight and prove His existence, there would be a billion bloggers and writers the next day talking about how it was all a big deception of magic tricks and special effects.
Her: That's part of the problem I have with this... the whole Jesus as God thing.
Me: Me, too... I don't fully understand it, but what I do knw this is - that if the world was broken - which I tend to think it is... not sure of your thought on that as you look around at the state of things - but if the world was broken, would we really comprehend a perfect God unless He made Himself known to us... and even then how much of Him would we get? How hard would it be to accept what He gave us about Himself without demanding that it all make sense? I guess that's the journey I'm on, and so if I can help you guys with yours I'd love to.
And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:3-6)