A Network of Christian Fellowship for Comics Fans, Pros, and Amateurs
Wow! I got through just part of the 'Coffee with Jesus' archive and the strips are just sabre-sharp! Iconic images and amazingly pithy script really deliver. Its gives me a great intro sentence for conversation with my work collegues: "Hey I saw this great online strip -Coffee with Jesus..."
Thanks for the heads up. And thanks to whichever site-wizard added an edit button for the comments.
"Coffee With Jesus" - Strip #36
So much for the idea of His name being holy. So much for reverence, or adoration. So much for the idea of lifting Christ high, for bowing before him in worship, and just simply showing Him the respect due to Him for being our very Creator.
I remember when I first was saved, oh, about 21 or 22 years ago (I forget), I would say the name "Jesus" out loud to myself sometimes as I walked or worked just to have his name on my lips. Just for the joy of saying it.
It meant that much to me.
I knew what I was- a foul mouthed, carnal, angry young man who hated human beings, and who fantasized about killing a few before I died- and I knew what Christ had done within me.
The God of Life had completely transformed my heart and mind in a moment (literally), and even though now, years later, I sometimes forget how radical a change He made in my life, still I hold his name up as sacred, and believe He is worthy of all honor.
This strip dishonors Him. It makes Him common, and while those who walked with and near Him reached out just to touch His garment, or fell before Him in tears and wiped His feet with their hair... the creator(s) of this strip seem to feel otherwise.
It is a shame.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no stick in the mud. I enjoy a good funny...
But this is not funny.
1)You're no stick in the mud, Steve. You've chosen a full life guided by the Love of Jesus. Another brother might display all the same actions as you, but be driven by pride, fear, ignorance and harvest only the bitter fruit of loveless religon.
2) Righteous actions are worship when they bring us closer to him.
Righteous actions are ministry when they bring peace and harmony to those around us, showing that we care for them and their sensibilities.
Exhortation is love when we carefully evaluate the actions of another believer, and honor the spirit within them with a well placed zinger. "Coffee with Jesus" is like coffee from a believer to other believers: bitter and stimulating. I wouldn't recommend it for everybody, but in this land of comfortable christianity I appreciate the jolt and I think others would too.
I went to a small church I'd never been to during a visit to see my Mom and brothers up in Maine this past weekend. The worship was incredibly sweet -- the lyrics incredibly reverent -- everyone singing and praising the name of Jesus, lifting Him up. It was awesome. The Holy Spirit broke open my heart in a way it hasn't been in a little while -- what a refreshing! A man in the row in front of me was clearly hurting which prompted two brothers to come along side him to lay hands on him and pray as the worship continued. One of the men laying hands had no hand so he laid his stump on the one being prayed for. Tears poured down my face.
I get such a different feeling from seeing junk like this strip. It's not of the same spirit.
I want to have the sweet fellowship -- not the junk. There cannot be that kind of fellowship in the spirit while focusing on this awful treatment of our Lord.
He. Is. Lord.
"He. Is. Lord."
Yes. He is.
I have noticed something, though, and I wonder what everyone's thoughts are on this...
There are a couple of people I know who feel that they need to be "real" with non-Christians. They want to shrug off any pretense- because apparently, the unsaved have a sort of "Spidey-sense" when it comes to pretense- and so, they feel quite comfortable dropping the occasional F-bomb in casual conversation as their way of showing others that Christians are folks just like them.
I have noticed that when Christians hunger for cultural "honesty" they very often drop the bar, and opt for that which is crude, or irreverent.
Brien, please I'm not singling you out, but since you mentioned the phrase, why is it that when folks are looking to be jolted out of their "comfortable christianity", they so very often take this route? They deconstruct Christianity, and even Christ in an attempt to challenge themselves. Why?
What not raise the bar? Why not step out of your comfort, if that is what is desired, and kick your walk up a notch or two? Witness in front of a meth clinic? Start an apologetics study in your house, and invite an atheist or two? Open your home to someone in your church who may need a couch to sleep on for a bit? Volunteer in a crisis pregnancy organization? ...Put yourself on the line, bare your soul, be vulnerable with a friend, a stranger, etc?
I'm just not sure why there is so often an impulse to give Christ a black-eye in the name of realness, when we could just as easily (or not) give the enemy one.
Also, one last thought... I never understood why it is necessary to take yourself out of your comfort zone. I never got that.
When I was a young Christian I had some friends in a Christian band. Often after the show some of the older Christians would stick a tract in my hand and say, "Hey, go give this to that guy over there." Back then, coming from the world I did, I was usually the only one in my (Christian) crowd with long hair and a leather jacket, so they thought I would make an impact giving a tract to some lost guy sitting by his lonesome.
But I NEVER felt comfortable with that. It was most definitely forced. (I didn't really much like people.) ...As I matured, I realized that God made me a certain way, and though I am quick to open my home to people, or spend long discussions wrestling over issues, God didn't make me the here's-a-tract kinda guy. Never.
I also have friends who LOVE doing that stuff. So, I pray for them, and trust God knows what He's doing.
Comfortable Christianity ought no be confused with ineffective or dead Christianity. They are not the same, and I am all for folks working within their God-given strengths comfortably.
Just a few thoughts.
Comfort zones are prisons, Steve. Joe Martin did a great MR. BOFFO cartoon where Boffo had his wife phone in to his boss that he had a bad case of WTB syndrome (Warm Toasty Bed).
One Christian's particular talent may not be individual witnessing; it would be phoney & fake for that Christian to try to do it (unless the opportunity just naturally presented itself but that's another topic). That Christian might have skills as a singer/musician & could be an uplift to his/her local church.
However, if they aren't willing to even consider any music other than the 2 or 3 dozen standards everybody sings b/c they only feel comfortable with those, then they are denying themselves & others the possibility for God to do something new & wonderful.
Mind you, I'm not saying God absolutely will do something if they pick a newer song, but unless they're willing to be open to change, it's pretty much guaranteed they will be blocking anything God may have in store.
And if that Christian becomes a stumbling block to others, throwing a temper tantrum if someone plugs in an electric guitar during regular worship service, then their comfort zone might do real harm.
I grew up in the Old South. Nobody wanted to change things because they were comfortable with things the way they were, even though they knew it was wrong. Pressure had to be made excruciating in order for them to do what was right.
And Lee, God manifests Himself in different ways to different people: Elijah heard a still, small voice; Isaiah saw the Temple filled with Glory; Daniel had the equivalent of a really good acid trip.
It all worked for His glory.
(And I remind everyone that Christ has a marvelous sense of humor: Camels through needles, beams in eyes, duplicitous servants being praised for cheating their bosses, etc. He was a master of the absurd, just like His Father, who had people prophesy naked, marry hookers to make theological points, promoted the least to the greatest, and filled his prophets' & pslamists' imaginations with intricate puns & word play.)
"Comfort zones are prisons, Steve."
Closed-mindedness or pig-headedness (what you have described), and comfort zones are two different things.
As I said, working within one's strengths, growing, and allowing yourself to be used within those parameters that are natural to you (i.e., comfortable) is a beautiful thing. It is fertile ground for good works, and a peaceful soul, I would think.
That being said, anything can be made into a prison. Always feeling the need to be removed from your comfort zones can equally be a prison.
There are a few ladies I know who always feel that God wants them "stretched", as they call it. They take on more and more responsibilities and duties, thinking that God wants them removed from their comfort zones in order to grow them spiritually, and do you know the result? ...Burn-out, stress, and some woman crying to my wife over a cup of tea that life is so hard.
Yet, eventually they will dust themselves off, and they will tell each other that God wants them stretched, and it begins all over again. This has been going on for years.
Anything can be a prison, but comfort zones can also be freedom. (Freedom to be what you are, and freedom to stay away from what you are not.)
"Daniel had the equivalent of a really good acid trip."
No he didn't. He had a vision given to Him by God. That is equal to a drug induced hallucination?
There are no "good" acid trips. :-)
"And I remind everyone that Christ has a marvelous sense of humor..."
Yes. Yes He did, but Christ never denigrated His Father, He never mocked the Holy Spirit, and He wasn't given to self-deprecating humor.
The subject and person of God was always handled with the highest level of reverence.
If Christ Himself behaved this way, how much more should we?
But again, I ask: Why is it that when folks are looking to be jolted out of their "comfortable christianity", they so very often deconstruct Christianity, and even Christ Himself in an attempt to challenge themselves? Why?
Why is irreverence "edgy" by default?
My personal definition of "Comfortable Christianity" is when a believer stays at a growth stage too long, and starts making decisions which favor personal comfort and security over the promptings of the Holy spirit. The trail to heaven has rest spots and victory-party areas; it is a temptation to linger too long.
Steve, your story of the overworked ladies is also something I've seen; mistaking continual hardship and sacrifice as gifts guarenteed to have God's approval. I know of several families of completely dedicated christian workers, where the children bitterly left both church and family when they came of age.
I don't approve attacks on Christianity, I do support a healthy deflating of "Churchianity;" unfortunatly they're often intertwined inside a denomination,a church, or even a life. Humor, skillfully delivered, can reach many different types and levels of people, and gives the reader the choice of taking or leaving the 'point.'
The general premise of "Coffee with Jesus," a Son of God dressed like everyone else at a coffee klatch, alternatly supporting good and ridiculing falsehood, is very much in line with scripture. Jesus was certainly irreverant, caustic at times, in his treatment of the traditions of his elders. Irreverance and reverance have their places in spiritual growth.
I've done a lot more trolling through the "Coffee with Jesus" archives since this discussion started, I would recommend it more carefully now than before...but I would still recommend it to some of my fellow believers as discussion points.
This is comparable to the Sacred Sandwich http://sacredsandwich.com/, insomuch that the author is using vintage style graphics to make a point. There are differences though, and they make all the difference in the world. The Sacred Sandwich is far more meaty in its satire. And "Coffee with Jesus," while making some excellent points here and there - like Harry Potter, South Park, or porn with a story - does not hallow and esteem Christ. Jesus is far too often portrayed nowadays as a friend who works with us on a latitudinal level, a limp-wristed Fabio. It is often forgotten that He is our Lord, and King, and that there are accounts of people bowing before him and washing His feet, and accounts of Him condemning cities, and parables of some future time when He would cast rotten and worldly sinners out to a great gnashing of teeth and eternal flame. Steve is entirely right. His sovereignty, and dignity, and divinity, and grace should be so palpably present and tangible to us, that these cartoons should worry us, for they present a flippant - while friendly - distortion of who Christ is.
The last meeting with the Lord that is recorded in the bible is with one of the disciples who was most close to Messiah during His earthly ministry -- John ...
Rev 1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me,* "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.