Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Christian (non)humility and public perception

Awhile back, I read a tongue-in-cheek article on the San Francisco Chronicle's site about "What's On Jesus' iPod?" - the commentary being that in the "iPod Era" the new benchmark for understanding a person is what kind of music they listen to.

I didn't find the article really that offensive except for the fact that there seemed to be serious lack of hip-hop mentioned... I can imagine Jesus would be down with "conscious" hip-hop classics like the Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message", Public Enemy's "Fight the Power, "The Ghetto", Common's "G.O.D." (Gaining One's Defintion), or Mos Def's classic "Fear Not Man". At the end of the article, the writer solicited reader input on what people thought what music Jesus would have if he had an iPod.

Predictably, it didn't take long for the hate mail to show up in the follow-up article, "What On Jesus' iPod? Pt II". Some highlights:

HOW DARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Send such an e-mail out talking about Jesus and God the way that you have done ... After all the wonderful and great things he has done for you. I can't believe that someone would send such garbage out ... this post makes no sense whatsoever, and what in the world is an IPOD!!!!!!??????? I have a song for you ... how about "Amazing Graze" [sic]...
-- "The Smiths Home" [yes, a real e-mail]

stupid article, i hope that you repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection for the salvation of your soul.
-- Tony W (preachertony.com)


Christians frequently complain that the liberal media has an axe to grind against Christianity, and in some instances, the claims do have some validity. But most of the time, I happen to agree with my friend Dave that some "Christians" have nobody but themselves to blame for creating bad publicity. There is a direct correlation between how Christians choose to behave and how people perceive most Christians.

While I myself am far from being a saint, I believe that Christians, especially Christians in America, need to re-evaluate the importance of humility in a Biblical sense. If we claim to follow and emulate the character of Jesus Christ, than we cannot forget that one of the defining aspects of Christ's character was his humility - it was a characteristic born out of His obedience to God and his compassion for humanity. To quote a part of Philippians 2:1-18:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death´┐Ż even death on a cross!

Paul wrote those words to encourage unity in the Philippi church, but I believe they're applicable to our interactions with people outside the church as well.


Jesus Christ was God, yet he many times during his ministry, he "passed up" chances to assert his power and identity, even though he'd be full in his rights to do so. When Jesus was getting falsely accused by the Jewish elders or abused by the Roman soldiers, he could have stopped it any time with just a thought - but he chose not to because it was not a part of God's plan to do so. It defies human logic, but Godly character almost always does.

In the same way, people who claim to be Christians should evaluate their actions in the same way. I believe that Jesus Christ is real and that the Holy Bible is God's inerrant truth, but I'm very aware that if I choose to verbally assail every atheist I meet by saying "YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD YOU'RE GONNA BURN HELL DUMBASS" that it does nothing to bring them closer to God even if it according to my beliefs, that might be true.

Humility is not the world's idea of grabbing our ankles and getting violated - Jesus never backed down when he was directly questioned or God's honor was at stake. But humility is having the wisdom to know which battles are worth fighting and which are just frivolous... and frankly, if a humor column about Jesus' iPod doesn't count as frivolous, I don't know what is. When Christians are more concerned about being right and making ourselves look "righteous" than being ministers of God's love, we've failed to practice humility; and when we've failed to practice humility... we've failed to follow Christ.

And isn't following Christ the whole point of being a Christian?


Good post man. I was actually anti-Christian before I became Christian. Why? Some of the reasons you stated above. Luckily I ran into you guys and that changed my perspective.
jon f - thx. you changed a lot of people for the better too, ya know. =)
It's an extremely astute point you have there. If more of us who 'should know better' preempted what we said with some serious thought...
sup garrett, i stumbled on to your site through dave's. i agree with you 100%. there needs to be truth and grace in our words. i look forward working with ya in COHI. peace
Bek - yeah, i'm working on "preempting" myself more.

Yung - welcome to the world of blogging... feel free to visit anytime. ;)
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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know



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