Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

John Cena and Baptists

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I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.—1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

John CenaI’ll bet if you have a son older than 8, either he or a friend of his who follows pro wrestling knows who John Cena is. He’s the biggest babyface in WWE, and he does a lot more than just wrestle.

He’s been in movies, TV shows, commercials, reality shows, award shows… released a hip hop CD a few years back. He also does a lot of charitable work and is the top requested wrestler for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. From the reports I’ve read, he seems to be a nice guy, well-liked backstage, paid his dues and works hard to be one of their top draws. Plus, he’s financially successful from all these outside ventures and because he sells a ton of T-shirts when WWE comes to town.

I’m also pretty sure that if you know a grown-up who enjoys watching wrestling (hopefully not one still living in Mom’s basement who thinks that it’s real), he probably hates John Cena. He is cynical of the  kiddie cartoony characters and the PG-rated squared circle soap operas (that he likely grew up on, but he is now too sophisticated to watch). He wants wrestling the way it used to be and supports the heels so he looks cool. He’s also probably on some internet message board right now complaining about how John Cena would be a nobody if it weren’t for all those kids who know nothing about good pro wrestling.

So what does this all have to do with Baptists? (as the improbable title suggests) DISCLAIMER: I am not a part of the Baptist denomination, so this is just from an impartial (more or less) observer.

I’ve heard about five messages in the past couple of months knocking Baptists. They’re like the heel denomination of the church (church as the body of Christ, not as a building or congregation). I guess it’s appropriate now to make fun of the way Baptists teach, to equate them with legalism, to make fun of how they talk and preach down South, to mock their interpretations of the Bible as strict or intolerant…

When we left our last church (and the only church I’ve ever known) because we needed to grow and be challenged, I learned that just because God moved us away, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still doing something relevant to someone at some phase in their life. I may not agree with the way they do church, with their method of preaching, or the topics they preach (or don’t) preach on, but we all should agree with the basics. God loves us as His adopted children so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins and defeat death so we can live with Him forever in Heaven.

Beyond that, we are to go out into the world and make disciples. The Bible doesn’t specify if it’s through a traditional or contemporary service, a church that serves communion every week as opposed to once a month, a church with an organ instead of a live band, a pastor who dresses in a suit and screams at the top of his lungs or a pastor in a turtleneck speaking softly with a cup of Starbucks in his hand. Just because people are connecting with God in ways that aren’t traditional doesn’t make them any less valid. Just because others are happy with traditional church doesn’t make their faith less valid either.

Old school vs. new school. It’s the same in pro wrestling as it is in the church. We all have preferences for church services. We all have ways that God speaks to us individually. Why divide the body of Christ further by making fun of a particular group? We are fractured enough already.

The kids that love John Cena today will be the fans of the future that will watch pro wrestling with their kids. The church you attend that best gets into your soul will connect you and your family to the body of Christ. Isn’t that what we really want?

Am I way off base here? Is there something I’m not getting? Maybe I’m setting the bar kind of low for a church by expecting them to just teach what the Bible says and be done with it, but I think that kind of simplicity is enough for us to handle. Let me know in the comments.

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