Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Share Your Faith (Evangelism Radiohead Style)

The music video to Radiohead's "Just" came out in 1995 and was directed by Jamie Thraves. It is one of the best music videos I've ever seen and I believe it has a lot to teach persons of faith about evangelism (the act of sharing your faith). If you haven't watched the video, you should do so before reading on.

In the video we encounter a middle-aged man who, for reasons unknown, lies down in the middle of a busy sidewalk. His strange behavior is immediately noticed by those used to the same old routine of walking to work, etc. In fact, his limp body literally gets in the way and trips a passerby. The tripped bloke is both upset and mystified by the man lying down and proceeds to ask him questions. Eventually, a crowd of people is intrigued by the man's peculiar behavior and are literally begging the man to explain his motive. When he finally shares the explanation for his behavior, the crowd is persuaded to join him. The last scene depicts all the people laying on the sidewalk together.

Is this not a perfect example of how to share your faith? Never mind that the man seems to be depressed, this is not what matters here (nor am I attempting to interpret the song or video). What matters is the relationship between his actions and his sharing. Namely, the man's actions precede his speaking. Moreover, the man's speaking is a response to the inquiries of others about his actions. 

What we see in this video is a man who does something out of the ordinary and sparks a host of responses including curiosity, concern, and disgust. I would argue that this is almost identical to the way we see Jesus operate in the Gospels. Jesus was constantly responding to questions and criticism because of his actions. Just to name a few... 
  • Matt. 9:10-11 - Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?
  • Matt. 9:14 - Why are you not fasting according to custom?
  • Matt. 12:1-3 - Why do you pick grain on the Sabbath?
  • Matt. 15:1-3 - Why don't you follow purity laws before you eat?
  • Matt. 21:23 - By what authority do you do these things?
  • Matt. 26:7-8 - Why did you let this woman waste her perfume?
  • Mark 11:5 - Why are you taking this colt?
  • John 4:9 - Why do you ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water?
  • John 9 - Who healed you? How is your eyes have been opened?
In addition to these specific instances, think about all the times that Jesus is doing things: baptism, healing, praying, sharing meals, and cleansing the Temple. Jesus did not go around handing out tracts about the kingdom of God, he lived it out in his actions and people could not help but respond.

Perhaps this is exactly how people of faith ought to "do" evangelism today. Perhaps we are called to do things that are so peculiar, out of the ordinary, and compelling, that others cannot help but inquire as to our motives. 

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

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