the lifehouse skit
The youth conference skit of the last few years has been the one featuring Jesus and a troubled girl, set to "Everything" by Lifehouse. It dramatically shows how dark life can feel, and how Jesus intervenes.
And I can't bring myself to like it.
This is one of the cases where I wonder if my cynicism has gone too far. The LT crew performed this here in Colorado on our first Tuesday night, and though one my new friends poked me and asked if I liked it, I struggled to be positive. It made me feel like a jerk&mdashmy resistance like stiff-arming Jesus himself or something.
Here's what was going through my mind:
1. It doesn't feel like a legit art form. Where in culture do you see the pantomime-over-audio-bed-skit except by church drama teams? The "skit" as generally accepted is a piece of comedy (SNL), but I can't think of applications that are taken seriously (Cirque du soleil maybe?). It's just not common, and to me has that nobody-does-this-except-us feel that goes with gospel tracts and public hymn sings.
2. The cascading chain of sin. The Lifehouse skit shows a succession of temptations or sins that seems to distract or invade the girl's life. In order: boyfriend/romance -> cash/money -> alcohol -> beauty/anorexia -> cutting -> suicide. Each of these is profound and serious. But do boyfriends cause money-chasing or does chasing money cause alcohol, etc? I guess the positive way to see this would be as one girl's story, but the subtle message that these will lead to each other.
3. Oversimplified sins. Romance, money, alcohol, and self-beauty all have God-created elements that can both live with vigor and grace in the Kingdom or be twisted and abused outside the Kingdom. I'm sure the skit format necessarily needs simplification, but I'm not sure Romance/Love is replaced by Jesus as much as it's replaced by Romance/Love Done Jesus' Way. Wine Done Jesus Way (Wedding feast of the lamb). Etc. I'm always worried when it feels like we're throwing out Creation along with the Sin. It's tough - in our world they are well tangled. But I hope this leads us to complicated conversations about how grace is the Great Unravellor.
4. Her turn-around/conversion is so black & white. One image I love in this skit is the deep struggle that's portrayed. The clawing and pain under sin. But when Jesus finally dashes in to shield the heroine, she seems instantly free of her ailments, returning to a sense of perfect freedom. Isn't it a significantly more realistic picture (though much less Happy Ending) to portray a walk that's near to both Jesus and struggle? This is the Christian life we live. It's possible, by portraying otherwise, to tell a false story that condemns those that show harsh evidence of their sin struggle their entire life. Hardly difficult to find in the history of the church. Paul shows us a rich picture of grace and sin running in parallel... the final glory established is Next not Now.
I realize in certain quarters I'll get an bored high-five on this, but there are other that might wonder why I need to stir the pot. Why bring it up? Because these are big central issues of the way we talk about the gospel, sin, and grace. As fundamental pillars in the Christian worldview, I'm sure they can emerge from my small discussion no worse for the wear.