I remember visiting my great grandmother - we called her "Nanny" - shortly after she moved into that home. We all sort of shuffled in awkwardly, past Nanny's roommate who quietly sat in her bed watching televangelists with the volume way too high. The roommate nodded and smiled at each of us as our family-train passed her bed. The room was separated in two by a sliding curtain, offering a poor attempt at privacy.
I remember my mother saying, "Nan, your roommate's TV is sure loud."
And this is the part that really sticks with me! Nanny answered (loudly):
"I'M SO TIRED OF HEARING
THE NAME JESUS CHRIST!"
A part of me thought it was deliciously funny that she would be so blunt. Another part of me was horrified that someone so close to death (in my callous assumption) would be so religiously irresponsible. I mean, 90 years old is hardly the time to BEGIN serious blasphemy. That's behavior that should be reserved for young people who expect to live forever. At that point in my own life (at that point in my understanding of faith and salvation) if I had been in Nanny's shoes (slippers) I would have been spending every lonely moment praying for forgiveness for a lifetime of sin.
But there she was, defying all the powers of Mass-Media-Jesus, and defying all of the blessings promised by his made-for-TV cronies.
Last week I watched the latest episode of Glee. An image of Jesus Christ that appeared on a grilled cheese sandwich ("Grilled Cheesus") inspired a brief fad of hyper-spirituality among the glee club. They sang all sorts of religious and religious-inspired songs throughout the episode, praying to Jesus, talking about God... it was all sort of funny and there were more than a few witty lines, but by the end of the show I felt the same way I feel when Christian radio is on for more than a few minutes - the same way my great-grandmother felt when her heavenly-minded roommate blasted TBN: "I'M SO TIRED OF HEARING THE NAME JESUS CHRIST!"
That may sound impious. Cynical. Disrespectful? But let's get real: that's the way our non-Christian friends feel when we go into evangelism-mode. It can be nauseating. If we have the self-awareness to step out of our own skin for a moment, and take a look at what we're doing, we might just make ourselves a little sick...
I love Jesus. I really do. But I love a lot of people, too, and if I talked to them and about them the way Evangelicals talk about Jesus, those people would probably stop talking to me. There have been times when I treated Jesus like a middle-school crush. I'm not saying Jesus doesn't appreciate our affections. But I'd bet that Jesus has been around the block a few times. I have a hard time thinking he's so easily wooed.
Let's have a little less Jesusy-talk. The only folks we're likely impressing are each other.