Being heckled on stage might be the worst thing that could happen to a stand-up comedian. As comic Patton Oswalt says, “they prevent a show from being a fucking show.” I can see where comics are coming from. It is strange if you think about it. Could you imagine someone coming to your place of work and giving you crap about how you’re doing your job?! Like the scene from Seinfeld episode, The Fire, where Jerry gets retribution on his heckler by going to her place of work and heckling her right back.
I can’t help to see the similarities between hecklers and heresy hunters. With the age of social media, it’s become a full-throttle siege of trolling other Christian’s with differing worldviews. I have blogged on the issues in regard to social media and heresy hunters, so I won’t go into that now. But I can’t help noticing how this new platform (social media) and the old Christian tradition (heresy hunting) are not doing us any favors.
From the beginning of Christianity, we always had stuff to argue about. Like the council of Jerusalem where new Christian’s decided if they were going to let those cringy gentiles in on the party. How about The Nicene Creed, and its lovely introduction of orthodoxy (“real” Christian beliefs) to the masses? It’s no different now. From excommunication to cancel culture, it looks like we modern Christian’s are just following suit. The Christian Progressives say Evangelicals are judgmental and racist. The Evangelicals say the Progressive Christian’s are toting a false gospel disguised as social justice. You can imagine how those discussions go online.
Of course, there are nuances. It’s not like all Christian’s are self-righteous assholes (like me…of course). That’s what we have dealt with in this spiritual tradition since day one: Who’s in who’s out and how can we heckle our way through it?! Look, this faith tradition we call Christianity has produced some beautiful things and still is to this very day. We just need a little improvement when it comes to relationships in-house. Why do we always have the need to bash each other’s way of doing Christianity?
I can hear the argument to that question now. From the conservative: “Because they aren’t following the Bible!” or from the progressive: “Because they aren’t bringing justice to the marginalized!” It doesn’t matter – in the end – it will always be a game of us vs them. Here is a good little point from Evangelical author and pastor Stephen Mitchell:
“Christianity is not right-wing or left-wing. It goes beyond the political and ideological tribes which demand that we adhere and pledge unquestioned loyalty. Aspects of God’s word will step on the toes of liberals and aspects of God’s word will step on the toes of conservatives. The left-wing attempts to conform Jesus to its image, and the right-wing attempts to conform Jesus to its image, but if we truly follow Him, He will be conforming us to His image.”
Guess what? I don’t agree 100% with this statement from pastor Mitchell but I like where his thought process is going. Even so, its ok not to agree with everything a fellow Christian says. Yes, we are all going to get it wrong at times. But as Stephen points out, the way of Jesus goes beyond “the political and ideological tribes which demand that we adhere and pledge unquestioned loyalty.”
We need to let go of the temptation to always counterattack other Christians. Yes, there is a time and place to critique different styles of Christianity when it comes to unhealthy practices. We can see that when Jesus goes after the Pharisees. But he doesn’t pick on one individual Pharisee. Instead, he points out the issues within the whole pharisaic system. Big difference there. Even to that point, this isn’t to say that is our sole duties as Christians. Unfortunately, going after the Pharisees has become the norm for Western Christianity.
Paradoxically, it seems I am hypocritically doing the very thing I am saying we shouldn’t be doing as Christians: Heckling at the way Christians our heckling. Yes, yes – we all need (myself included) to stop the heckling fiasco and start just enjoying the show. What show? Well, if we are relating to the Jesus story, then it’s the reality of love and peace in his Kingdom here, now and for the ages to come (can I get a witnesssssaaah). That is the show we need to stop and enjoy occasionally…for crying out loud! You be the change. You create the reality that heals and liberates, why don’t yeah? Like Steve Harvey said:
“Your reality is yours. Stop wasting time looking to someone else’s reality while doing nothing about yours”