Know Whose You Are

Published on 8 May 2023 at 19:46

I have two boys. I wouldn't say that I have particularly tried to push gender roles on them, but they are very much boys. They like traditional boy things. And they reject things that are too "girly".

Such as Disney movies.

I don't think I had ever noticed how many Disney movies have female heroines until I had boys who refused to watch movies that star girls. I'm working on it, but it is what it is.

So, they've seen "Toy Story" and "Cars" and "Strange World". We watched "Peter Pan" and "Pinocchio." But they won't watch the princess movies with me.

I finally convinced them to watch "Moana". Mostly, I won them over when I told them about the lava monster.

If you haven't seen "Moana", consider this your spoiler alert. I'm about the ruin the end of the movie for you.

... ...

Still with me?

Here we go. Everything on Moana's island is dying. Folklore states that the reason is because the half-god Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti, the spirit of all life. Though no one is permitted to leave the island, Moana does anyway, escaping away from the reef and out into the open sea on an adventure to find Maui, return the stolen heart, and save her people.

Things get off to a bumpy start, but then she and Maui are headed to Te Fiti. In their way, however, is the lava monster - Te Ka. They must defeat Te Ka if they are to return the heart to Te Fiti. 

Only, as Moana faces Te Ka, she realizes something. Te Ka is not all she seems. She is in fact Te Fiti herself. Te Fiti who after losing her heart turned into a molten lava demon.

Moana sings a song to Te Ka / Te Fiti, "This is not who you are. Know who you are..."

Christians... know who you are.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I lived in Peru for three years. Peru is by and large a Catholic country, full of rich traditions and rituals and celebrations. But there is a small (and growing) Evangelical church there as well. In Peru, when you meet an Evangelical, if you are also an Evangelical, you identify yourself by greeting them with the words, "El Señor le bendiga" (roughly: May the Lord bless you). It was fun because it was like a clandestine code or gaining access into a top-secret society. Every time I used the "El Señor le bendiga" with an Evangelical, their eyes would light up and they would hug me in excitement. There is some persecution in Peru of Catholic Christians towards Evangelical Christians, who are not always accepted as a "legitimate" church. So, the "code words" served as a way of establishing a camaraderie. 

In the United States, it used to be that if you met someone and discovered you were both Christian, then you knew that you had a common foundation and basic tenants of the faith that you could agree upon. In today’s America, I don't believe this is still true. Those on the conservative Christian side point fingers at those on the liberal Christian side, stating that they’re too immoral, too loose, too much like the surrounding culture, and have lost sight of the moral code of the Bible. Those on the liberal side point fingers at the conservatives, arguing they are too rigid, too judgmental, too inaccessible to the surrounding culture, and have lost sight of the social justice code of the Bible.

Both sides have become highly political and are often seen fighting for power and influence. The fight has gone beyond the four walls of the church and into the public and political sector. Both sides want laws that represent their way of beliefs and systems of thinking. The problem is that each side sees the proposed laws of the other side as inherently wrong. 

The differences between us are grave. The two sides are vastly incompatible. Neither side seems willing to seek a middle ground or make any allowances for the other.

When I argued a few years back that the church needs to stand united, I was asked, "But under what flag?" Because of course, both sides believe they're 100% in the right. They believe God is on their side. This belief sometimes goes far enough to believing the other side is not only incorrect, but perhaps not even saved.

Under what flag should we unite? I'm not sure I have the answer. 

This popular church saying is said to have come from St. Augustine: “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”

It sounds good in practice, but the problem is that we keep debating over what qualifies as "essential". The church has argued over essentials for so long that we presently have over 45,000 different denominations.

45,000. Isn't that astounding?

45,000 denominations, all calling themselves Christian.

No wonder the non-Christian world is confused.

No wonder we are confused.

Perhaps this is why the song of Moana calls to me. Know who you are... or perhaps, know whose you are. We are all in one kingdom. The Kingdom of God. A Kingdom which surpasses every individual church and every denomination. A Kingdom which surpasses every city, state, and country government. A Kingdom beyond this world.

And if we were to act like our citizenship is in Heaven, rather than to a particular denomination or government or political party, I wonder how the face of Christianity in this country would change.

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