the artwork above and the title artwork in my blog is from an artist named banksy. you probably haven't heard of him, mostly because no one actually knows who he is. he paints his murals (graffiti-style) in the dark on the streets on London, and only his art dealer knows his true identity. His evocative pieces poke fun at commercial American, including a child being dragged away by Mickey and Ronald Mc Donald, and tons of rats on a red carpet holding a sign that says "it is not a race". it is modern art at it's finest, with hard hitting pieces that will hit you at your core, and some that will simply make you laugh.
I have recently picked up the book "Lord Save Us from Your Followers", by Dan Merchant, recommended by my friend Matthew Turner. It is a social commentary about the views the world has about Christianity as a whole, and it asks the question "Why is the gospel of Love dividing America?". In it, Merchant sets out to set the nation on fire, by asking questions some of the church would rather not ask. In perhaps the most poignant chapter, called "confession booth", Merchant invites homosexuals to dialogue with him about the way Christians have treated them. It will make even the most stout republican cringe. He DOES NOT condone the behaviour, or insist it is not sin, but rather apologizes on behalf of the body of Christ for forgetting to love the people God has called us to love. If we are truly overflowing with the love of Christ, then it cannot be exclusive.
"Gloria's round face quickly dissipated my apprehension. "This is my first time in a confessional, so I thought I would confess." I managed with a nervous laugh. "Okay", she said with smiling enthusiasm. I took a deep breath. "I'd like to confess on behalf of the church, a church I love and am a part of, for letting you down, in light of what Jesus has done for us...which is to love one another. our church hasnt done that, and I havent done that." I said in a steady voice. "Oh!", she exclaimed, "Apology accepted". "Next I'd like to apologize for pretty much ignoring the aids crisis." I heard my smooth baritone roll on. I was quickly becoming a spectator to what God was doing here. "Not only did we ignore the crisis, but we cast condemnation on thosewho were hurting and dying. So I'm sorry for that too." "You;re forgiven", my new friend whispered with a nod. "Thank you", I squeaked. "Lastly, I want to apologize for not living up to what Christ has taught me. I'm to show compassion and not judge, the bible says "He who is without sin cast the first stone", and my sins are numerous. I apologize for all the people I have driven away frm Jesus' love through my poor example. I'm sorry." A hot tear streamed down my cheek. "Absolved. You know, Dan, one of the things that kept me from becoming a Christian was being treated so poorly by Christians. And though I am not a Christian, I appreciate the words you are saying to me today". " -Confession Booth, LORD SAVE US
What does this have to do with mystery artist Banksy? Because the title of his piece above is 'stop and search'. I think Dan Merchant got it right. He stopped and searched. He dug down deep. He reached out where Jesus called us to reach. He didn't condone, but he loved.
Stop. and Search.