Friday, September 30, 2011

Cannonballs Are Not Always Funny

This morning fellow blogger and friend, Frank Turk, shared a video on Twitter. Here it is:

For the record: Frank did not find the video humorous.

The video, posted just nine hours prior to the writing of this article, already has more than 29,000 views. The person who uploaded the video included this description:
Getting baptized is one of THE most important acts a Christian will make in their life. This little guy was so excited to make this proclamation that he quite literally jumps for joy. While our hearts shall be fixed on Christ, we should all have this kind of enthusiasm and joy when entering the Kingdom of Christ! Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. Luke 6:23
A plethora of first impressions, thoughts, and questions filled my mind as I watched the video--none of them good. And I realize that all of my first impressions could be wrong. It's easy, sometimes too easy, to comment about some of the ridiculous things that are put on the Internet.

So, after taking a little time to calm down after watching the video more than once, I would like to preface the rest of this article with the following:

It's obvious, even to the untrained eye, that the pastor in the video was not pleased with what the boy did. In fact, the pastor makes it clear at the end of the video that what had just happened would never happen again.

The video doesn't show the aftermath of the boy's stunt. Was he disciplined by his parents? Was he counseled by the pastor? One can hope. None of us uninvolved, third party viewers know the answers to these questions.

Many of the commentators on the video's page insist the boy was merely expressing his joy in the Lord. The video is neither an affirmation of the boy's joy in the Lord, nor is it evidence that the boy is a false convert. It may be true that he is nothing more than an immature boy who was expressing the joy of knowing Christ. Or it may be true that the boy is lost and is the product of the "trite, Christless, 'fun & games' mentality of so many churches (not all) youth ministries). Again, having nothing more than the video from which to draw conclusions, viewers who do not know the boy, personally, cannot draw a conclusion either way.

I have no idea who the person is who posted the video or how he came about the footage. Is he a member of the church, or not? I don't even know if the person is a man or a woman. What I do know is this. He (or she) performed a novice's level of interpretation to his citation of Luke 6:23. The interpretation given for Luke 6:23 isn't even a good attempt at eisegesis, which is an errant approach to the Scriptures.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. ~ Luke 6:22-23
The verse the person who posted the video cited has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the joy one feels when they come to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The actual context and meaning is rather obvious. In the above passage, Jesus encouraged his disciples to consider with joy the blessing of being persecuted for the Lord's sake (see also Acts 5:41; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:14-16).

Sadly, however, so many American Christians handle the Word of God with utter carelessness, concerned not with what a passage or verse of Scripture actually means, but rather concerned only with what they think about the verse and how their chosen misinterpretation makes them feel about themselves. The way many American Christians, from pulpit to pew, handle the Word of God is irreverent--which brings me to the point of this article: the irreverence of the American Church.

Irreverence: "disrespect, impertinence, mockery, derision, lack of respect, impudence, flippancy."

What the boy did by jumping into the baptismal font, whether motivated by a joyful heart or juvenile mischievousness, was an irreverent act. The boy showed a lack of respect toward both his pastor and His Savior (assuming he is, in fact, saved). He also showed both flippancy and mockery toward the ordinance of baptism. And the congregation approved of and participated in the boy's sin with their laughter.

While hindsight is 20/20 and it is sometimes easier to make tough, spur-of-the-moment decisions from the armchair than in the midst of a difficult situation, were I the pastor (and I was thinking biblically at that critical moment of surprise) I would have prevented the boy from being baptized--at least at that time. I would have taken the opportunity to publicly (but gently) rebuke the boy for his public, shameful act and rebuke the congregation (not so gently) for finding it funny. That sad and irreverent moment in the church, during what was presumably a time of worship, should have been a time of solemn teaching to the church family regarding the biblical meaning of baptism and the sin of irreverence toward God.

As shameful and disappointing as the above video is, I thank God that not all churches in America are irreverent toward God, His Word, worship, and His ordinances. I'm reminded of churches like Grace Community Church, pastored by John MacArthur, where many Sunday evening services are dedicated, in part, to the testimony and baptisms of new believers. At churches like Grace, you will never see a child cannonball his way into the baptismal font. The antics of a child would never be the central point of attention, or the memory with which the congregation would be left. No. Christ and Him crucified--Christ and Him glorified through the testimony, obedience, and faith of His people--is what the congregation would remember.

Segments of the American Church need to wake up to the blasphemous levels of irreverence they are presenting to God as worship. They are tantamount to the strange and unauthorized fire offered by the sons of Aaron (Leviticus 10:1-3). While many American Christians are right now "yuckin' it up" over this video now gone viral, what they should be doing is repenting of finding humor in irreverence.

Cannonballs are not always funny.