Last week we finally made it to see Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln.” After reading a number of Lincoln biographies, including Sandburg’s “Lincoln,” William Hernden’s original “Life of Lincoln” and the book upon which this movie is based, Doris Kearns Goodwins’ “Team of Rivals,” I have to say that this movie gives the best representation of our sixteenth president. It is a must see.
As usual, Jackie and I arrived early for the show and settled into our seats to watch the trailers of other movies soon to be released. The theater was fairly full, enough that we could hear the whispers and comments of those around us. As each trailer played across the screen we could hear people muttering to one another, “We have to see that one,” or “That’s not for us.” In two minutes we were all making up our minds about other movies we might or might not like to view.
The Australian writer, Michael Frost, argues that Christians and churches are 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).