Getting Bent Out of Shape

It seems that “The Bible” miniseries on The History Channel is generating its fair share of controversy. Of course, I have no firsthand knowledge of the miniseries because, being a Christian and all, we don’t have cable. (Actually, not having cable has more to do with being cheap than with being Christian).  But I did pre-order the DVD, but I probably won’t watch it when it comes in. Our DVD player broke last week, and who has time to go buy DVD players?

The latest controversy, according to articles in Christian Post, Breathe Cast and  others is that Nonso Anozie, the actor who plays Samson in the miniseries, is Black and wears dreadlocks. And everyone knows that this isn't biblically accurate-- there is no way Samson had dreadlocks. OK, the point of the articles is that there are evidently some people who take issue with Samson being portrayed by an African American actor. Of course, I rather dount that all the rest the actors in the miniseries are Jewish.  And is it really less likely that Samson looked like Nonso Anozie than Moses looked like Charlton Heston.  And did Mary the mother of Jesus speak with an Irish lilt (Roma Downey plays here in the miniseries). I suspect that part of the fun of watching the miniseries will be noting where it departs from the Biblical text, and I seriously doubt that one will have to quibble with casting choices to find the inaccuracies!

Today's daily Bible reading from Luke 5 has the Pharisees and teachers of the law questioning Jesus about his followers and fasting, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking” (5:33). Jesus could have said a thing or two about fasting-- after all, He once fasted for a month and a half! What Jesus does talk about here is spending time with the bridegroom (5:34-35) and sewing old patches on new garments or pouring new wine into old wineskins (Luke 5:36-38). Jesus isn't really talking so much here about fasting itself as about religious systems that judge spirituality based on outward acts of righteousness. Fasting is fine as long as you do it in a way that only God knows about it (Matt 6:16-18). Fasting is not a way that you put your piety on display so that it can be seen by others, and it is not the way to judge the religious life of others.

We probably tend to focus too much on external and visible things. That’s why some people seem to have gotten bent out of shape because a black actor played Samson on a TV miniseries. That’s why we so easily get bent out of shape if a church’s worship service or its organization or its ministries don't exactly match up with the way we think they should be. We focus on externals. Maybe we should focus more on the bridegroom Himself.