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***WARNING: This blog may contain spoilers to The Dark Knight***

Ok, so that’s my official warning.

One of my favorite moments in The Dark Knight comes in the last 5 minutes.  Batman and Lieutenant Gordon conclude that Gotham needs not only a hero but also a fall guy – a dark knight.  The city needs someone to take the blame for the people so that a hero can emerge and give them hope.  Batman says to Gordon, “I am whatever Gotham needs me to be.”  By saying this Batman volunteers to be be the scapegoat.

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The word scapegoat has an interesting origin.  There was a tradition in the Old Testament where a priest would take a perfectly innocent goat and during a ritualistic ceremony place his hands on the goat’s head.  Symbolicaly he passed the sins and failures of the people onto the goat.  The goat was then sent out into the desert, into isolation, never to be seen again.  

From that point on, anyone who assumed the blame for something of which they were not guilty was called the scapegoat.

So, you’ve heard this story before?  Innocent guy meets sinful people.  People need to be saved but can only be saved if someone takes the blame for what they’ve done.  Innocent guy willingly takes the blame for the people’s failures.  

Jesus was the scapegoat.  Jesus is our Dark Knight.

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Ok, so this is a preview to a Theology and Film small group I plan to start in the Spring after we launch The Net.

I never could’ve made comparisons between Batman and Jesus using the old Batman movie series.  But starting with Batman Begins new director, Christopher Nolan, has created a whole new Batman.

One thing Nolan did was create a more realistic Batman.  A Batman that struggles.  A hero that gets beat up.  Yes, Batman ultimately ‘wins’, but not without a price.  There are dark moments when we’re not even sure whether Batman is going to make it.  He hurts.  He  suffers.

batman1 And the weird thing is… we like this Batman better than previous ones.  We like our heros to be both hero and human.

The post-Christian generation is desperate for a hero that doesn’t just ‘rule the universe’ but is also a friend of the outcast.  He suffers with the hurting.  He feels pain.  And yes, he wins, but not without a struggle.

So, what does this mean for the Church?  We need to present Jesus in a more realistic light.  We need to show our world that, yes, Jesus did win, but not without a price.  He suffered.  He felt pain, and still does.  That for two whole days everyone close to him thought he was dead and gave up on him.  Perhaps they need to see Jesus through Isaiah’s eyes:

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows 

and acquainted with the deepest grief.  We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.

He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.

He was beaten so we could be whole.

He was whipped so we could be healed.

– Isaiah 53:3&5

To be continued…

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That’s an attention-grabbing title…now seriously, stop snickering and listen for a minute.

Yesterday I was riding in my car, listening to the radio when I heard about Burger King’s new add campaign called ‘Whopper Virgins‘.

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The idea was that they would take a Whopper and a BigMac to remote villages all over the world that had never tasted a hamburger before – some didn’t even have a word for hamburger – and they would perform the ultimate taste test. They wanted completely objective opinions of hamburgers.

That go me thinking, There are very few Church-Virgins out there.

Everyone we come in contact with, especially in America, has had some encounter with a church.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some weird. Some scary. But it’d be hard to find a true church-virgin in America.

The people that walk into our churches have preconceived ideas of what churches are.  For some church is a place of hope.  But for a lot of them church is a placed to be embarrassed, hurt, judged, mistreated, abused.

For this reason I want to help make their next experience a good one.  I want them to feel relaxed, refreshed and I want the service to be relevant to the issues they are facing.  I want to make their next first experience one they will never forget…in a good way.

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What, not Why

John 9:2 – Jesus and his crew walk by a blind guy.  The guys ask Jesus whose sin it was that caused the man to be born blind.

I’m not sure how these guys knew he was blind from birth.  They just assumed it.  1553

Then they asked one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard – Whose sin caused this?  His or his parents?  Imagine that, a man who sins prior to being born and it causes him to be born blind.  Crazy.

One thing is for sure, Jesus’ crew was more interested in WHY the man was blind rather than WHAT they cold do to help it.

We do this a lot don’t we?  ‘Why is that guy homeless?  Is he lazy?  Does he drink every dollar he gets?  Does he have a drug problem?’ or ‘How did she get pregnant?  Where’s the father?  What does she plan to do with the baby?’

Rabbi Kushner said God is more interested in our response to pain than giving us an explanation for our pain.  We always want an explanation.  WHY?  But Jesus is saying, WHAT?  WHAT are you going to do?  WHAT can you do to fix it?  Religious people are interested in WHY.  Christians are interested in WHAT.  Its WHAT, not WHY.

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On empty.

I’m in Nashville this weekend with my wife.  We have less than 1/4 of a tank of gas and it seems there’s a scare on, at least here in Nashville.  I can’t find gas anywhere.  Needless to say, we’re not going out and exploring the city.  Looks like we’ll be sitting in the hotel the whole time.  Apparently none of the gas stations are getting gas for the rest of the weekend.  Who knows what will happen?

It got me thinking…I wish our lives were half as dependent on God as they are on gas.  Maybe yours is.  I’m pretty sure mine isn’t.

Think about it.

TJ

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Its been a while, but I’m back and here’s a thought that hit me recently in my daily devotional.

How many times a day are you asked, “How ya doing?”  Doesn’t matter.  More than likely you answer the way I do, “I’m doing good.  And you?”  The only thing is, we’re lying.  I don’t mean that your life really stinks and your trying to hide it.  Your life probably is great.  But you’re not doing good, You’re doing well.

Quick grammar lesson:  

Well = state of satisfaction or contentment

Good = charitable act, kind action

Remember, Superman does good.  You’re doing well.

You see, most of us are doing well (we’re healthy, financially ok, somewhat intelligent) but few of us are doing good (helping others, visiting the elderly, serving the poor, etc.).

Contrary to popular TV theology, God doesn’t care if you’re doing well, but he does want you (and me) to do good.  The Bible says if you know what good is and you don’t do it, you’re sinning.  That kinda sums up my everyday life.  I’m good at not doing bad, but bad at doing good.  Confused?  Just don’t worry about how well you’re doing, but do lose sleep over how little good you’re doing.

God bless,

TJ

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I recently blogged about our relocation to Chattanooga, TN.  As I discussed in that post, part of our motive for moving there is to help launch The Net Church.  Being close to the leadership of The Net, I know that a huge desire of this church plant is to serve and transform the city.  In fact, Ryan (the lead pastor) recently blogged about the new Volkswagen plant that will provide 2,000 more jobs, thus increasing the potential of The Net.

 

So, this morning when I read in Chattanooga’s Times Free Press that the homeless population in the city has increased by 55.3% from 2005 to 2007, I immediately had to thank God for the opportunity.  No, I’m not thankful that these people are actually homeless.  It’s a sad condition that often sees no hope of recovering.  But I am thankful that this gives the people of The Net a greater opportunity to show Christ’s love to those who need it.

 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to sound self-righteous.  Sadly, I don’t have a history of doing a whole lot for homeless people.  But it is a group for whom I have much compassion and about whom God has convicted me a lot within the last year.  It’s also a group that Jesus had a lot to say about.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he was homeless too.

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