When I was growing up I spent many happy hours playing [and breaking] G.I. Joe action figures and vehicles. I had everything. I had the stealth bomber, the tiger striped helicopter, jeeps, underwater vehicles and more. I played with them indoors [sending vehicles and their unfortunate operators down the stairs] and outdoors [assigning them to arctic during the winter months]. In 2nd grade when asked what I wanted my career to be I chose “secret operative” much to my teacher’s delight. So you can imagine my uncontainable joy when it was announced that the cartoon/toys of my youth would be made into a live-action movie.
I cannot wait to see the G.J. Joe team in action, particularly Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes–the ninjas. Perhaps we will talk about the significance of ninjas in another blog.
But I must admit I have a little fear with this forthcoming film. The fear that the movie makers will rely soley on special effects for the film and neglect dialogue, character development, and of course the plot.
While I want to see the sword fights and the destruction of the Eiffel Tower, I really want the writers and director to do the franchise justice and not spoil a fond childhood memory of mine.
Its sort of like how we approach spirituality sometimes. We want the flashiest programming and the biggest church and those things become our focus because we want to impress people into the kingdom of God. But really if we focus on developing the characters of those involved in God’s awesome story of good vs. evil we will be far more successful in the long run.
In Matthew 23, Jesus is full of all kinds of colorful “woes” He pronounces on the Pharisees, but verse 27 really nails the focus of them:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”
Jesus calls out the religion of the day for being about the “glory” of appearance and not about the “guts” that comprise true religion.
So as we plan our evangelism and our churches ministries, lets ask ourselves how what we do empowers and builds up people and not just buildings and programs. And maybe if what we are doing isn’t helping people know Jesus and make a deeper committment to Him we need to do some rethinking, rewriting, and redirecting.
So, here’s to hoping that G.J. Joe: The Rise of Cobra won’t lack guts in favor of glory.
And here’s to us shaping our churches and ministries in a way that seeks to build up people and tell God’s story so that our religious experience will not only have “guts” but will give God glory.
So, as a wise member of G.I. Joe once said, “And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”