In the movie "The Departed", Leonardo De Caprio's character goes into a job interview after graduating the police academy. He is asked "Do you want to be a cop or do you want to appear to be a cop? A lot of guys want to appear to be cops, get the gun, the badge, pretend like they're on TV". After the rant, they basically ask him to work as an undercover cop in the mafia, that nobody will know he is a cop but the two officers that are interviewing him and it will end up helping the Police Force way more. So I guess I'll ask, do you want to be a Christian or do you want to appear to be a Christian? I'll elaborate.
I'm filming a music video at the moment that I'm shooting entirely documentary style, with no actors and getting real life situations. Last Saturday I filmed a crackhead smoking crack in his house, a prostitute on the corner of the street and in her house watching TV, I rode with a police car, filmed inmates in their cells and so many others all with permission and signed release forms. Anyway, when I was filming the prostitute in her house watching TV, the cops were driving around the neighborhood looking for a suspect from a murder that happened about ten houses down that night. I'm saying all of this to say that this area was rough. After that, I dropped off some people at a house that was on the block. They told me about it, it was 'community night' where this one young couple with a few kids invites people from the neighborhood into their home to eat dinner with them. I had to go in a meet them. They were awesome and they were Christians.
When I walked away I realized a few things. They don't have a website, a twitter page, a 'gofundme' page or an ulterior motive. They just are out there, in the trenches loving people for real. They didn't seem to care if the rest of the world knew what they were doing and the rest of the world probably will never know. Because they're too busy loving people. I've always said the best filmmakers usually have the worst websites, because they're usually too busy making films. And the ones with awesome websites that are super updated and current demo reels every few months are usually the ones looking for work and not making many films.*
A few verses came to mind when I saw this couple, besides almost everything that Jesus ever said, the biggest one is "Don't let your right hand know what the left hand is doing". I think when we love people, we are so quick to tweet it or facebook it. I think there is room for that and sometimes it's nice to inspire others to do the same. But I also think that if you broadcast your good deeds 100% of the time, I'd say check your motives. (The Bible backs this up if you want me to cite verses).
The other thing I got from seeing that couple is that it is incredibly easy to get discouraged by the church. In fact, that is one thing that comes up a lot with Christians that are my age. Too be honest, on one hand I understand, I get it why it's so discouraging, but on the other, I think 'just shut up'. Because I've seen it. I can name you some Christians that are so deep into loving people that you'd never know they are Christians and they are so humble that you'd never know they were so deep in loving people. They are undercover, they are creating relationships and speaking truth into people's lives while also meeting people's physical needs. What's incredibly sad is those Christians aren't always respected or even regarded as Christians. I'll explain.
Let's say there is a guy at a Starbucks talking to a German, in German, the whole time but speaking love, truth and the gospel to the German man. And then some Christians walk in and see the interaction, don't understand the words being said and don't think anything of it. But a Christian that knows German would understand what kind of conversation is happening and step in as a servant by refilling their coffee or buying them some snacks to help them stay there longer and hopefully avoid any more interruptions. The thing that we're dealing with here is Christians aren't speaking any other language than Christianese and so we go to Starbucks, speaking Christianese so other Christians hear us, but the world doesn't even understand. And we walk away giving each other highfives on our bravery to 'spread to gospel'. (That's why Christian movies are like filthy rags. If you ever want me to rant for several hours, ask me about Christian movies).
The last thing that I took away from that couple is that you can get discouraged all that you want about other Christians, but I guarantee you won't find what you're looking for on Fox News interviews. If you go where the world is hurting and you'll find Christians that are doing something about it. If you go to where the sick are, you'll find doctors. If you go to a homeless soup kitchen, you'll find servers. They're usually too busy loving people to give you updates all of the time on all the people that they're loving this week.
Another thing I should mention, if you're an undercover cop working in the mafia, other cops are going to attack you, because it's confusing to them. When Jesus hung out with sinners he was attacked often for it. It's actually pretty lonely, because the world will wonder "you're a Christian, why are you hanging out with me?" and Christians will ask "you're a Christian, why are you hanging out with them?". But the question is legitimate, ask yourself that. There's really only one answer that is acceptable. And that's because you love them and want them to "share in the blessings of the gospel".
So the question, 'do you want to be a Christian or appear to be a Christian?' Being a Christian doesn't usually look the way you think it looks, in fact I'm not sure that Christians have a certain look or uniform. There isn't one. The Bible says to save the weak, become the weak, to save the Gentile, become the Gentile, be all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel and to share in it's blessings (paraphrased). And if you just want to appear to be a Christian, my other question would be "how's that working out for you and the people around you?".
*There are obvious exceptions to this rule, I can think of a few of my friends off hand that are exceptions. But generally I don't judge a filmmaker by his website or lack thereof because it might mean that he's too busy making awesome films.