Last month I went to the movies and watched “Contagion.” in short it was a movie depicting a wide spreading virus, which was unknown, and untreatable. Well that’s until they found a vaccine to somewhat contain the virus from spreading virally. I am not intending to give my review of the movie, on whether it was great and you should watch it, but there is something that got me thinking about the words “confinement,” “viral,” and in some sense how it relates to Christianity.
Confinement has the idea of safely harboring something that is dangerous in a manner that it should be controlled. What is confined is something that can infect virally. This gives a somewhat negative feel to it. But a negative that in turn gives a sense of well being, for protecting people of being infected.
Which brings my mind to Christianity. In an ironic sense, this is how we treat the message of Jesus. We act in a way that we want to protect the sanctity of the message from spilling out. This happens when we contain or confine the viral and influential message of Jesus to be only viably expressed in the church. Let me explain.
I often hear messages with statements that say, “Don’t just fill up and warm the pews (or seats depending on what your church is made up) but get involved, be ministers, or just do something.” Now, what it means by that is, “Get involved in the programs, activities, ministries that are affiliated to the confines of the four walls (or whatever architectural structure your church is made up).” Some have even gone all the way as to say “Don’t just give your leftovers (time that is) to Jesus. Give your best.” Now to me that is just not fair for those whose jobs take the most of their time.
But if we would look to Jesus, was not his message one that went viral as opposed to the confining act of just a tribe, or the selected elite, in the confines of religious cultic practices in the vicinity of the temple and synagogues? Jesus’ message was instead available for the consumption of the masses and was virally transmitted by teaching, his healing and his conversations with the unwanted of society or just to the normal people. It is true that Jesus did in someways confined the secrets to his disciples but again in the end it was for their preparation to make the message of the kingdom viral (Matthew 28:18-20 or John 17: 14-18).
Do you see this happening in your church or churches for that matter? I ask because this is true in the context of the church I’m in. I’m not saying that there is no viable message of Jesus in the church, because the church in itself is the community of God’s people. But the issue I want to counter or respond is that we reduce the message of bringing it outside to the masses when we confine and conceal it as only viably transmitted in just the church. But I do see hope now that many are actually incarnating the life of Jesus outside the confines of the church (social works for example. There is much good in that).
I’ve come to believe that, if we seek to confine what is not meant to be confined, we are choking to death the influential message of Jesus. A message I think, should be viral.
Jonathan Paran Aran is a seminarian from Malaysia. He is the first online friend that Kurt met when he first began blogging and in Kurt’s opinion is one of the best bloggers that you may not know about! Follow his blog and twitter!