My wife and I like going to the movies. We don’t like all movies. We prefer comedies; light-hearted dramas and uplifting stories. Some that stand out over the years are Sea Biscuit and Secretariat (we like horse stories), The Blind Side, The Greatest Game Ever Played and Chariots of Fire (we like sports), Mr. Holland’s Opus, Freedom Writers, The Great Debaters and Akeelah and the Bee (we like movies about teachers making a difference). The best are usually based on true stories.
We try to get there early, grab a seat in the first row of the second section, you know, the one where you can prop your feet up on the rail in front of you. We settle in with our diet coke and popcorn, sit back and watch the previews of shows soon to be released. Like everyone else, we lean over and whisper to each other as we watch each trailer. “That one’s not for us,” or, “we’ll have to see that one.”
The Australian writer, Michael Frost, argues that the Christians and churches are to be like movie trailers for the Kingdom. We are to live in such a way that when others see us they say, “I want to be a part of that,” or ”I wish the world was like that.” This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Let your light so shine that men may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Whether we like it or not, our churches and our lives are being viewed like movie trailers by others. When non-believers look at our churches and our lives, they are whispering to themselves and to one another saying, “I’ll have to check that out,” or, “I wouldn’t want to be part of that.”
Jesus presented the clearest preview of the Kingdom. He invited others to look at his life to see what the Kingdom looks like. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-21).
The early followers of Jesus practiced Kingdom living in such a way that others were drawn to them and to their churches. This is why the Christian faith exploded in the first three centuries. People saw previews of the Kingdom practiced in the churches and the lives of believers, and they wanted to be part of it.
This is also the reason Christianity is stumbling in our day. Too often churches and Christians are selfish and self-centered, fighting among themselves and with others for dominance and control. When others see this, like patrons at a theater, they whisper to themselves, “That’s not for me.”
Every church and every believer must live in such a way that others see God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. This is what Paul meant when he said, “But thanks be to God, who … manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Cor. 2:14-15).