Not that long ago, I was in the field with a coworker of mine. She was talking about a recent trip she took to Japan. It was a cool conversation and touched on all the fun she had on the trip. She also started to discuss how she had recently gotten into anime. Her boyfriend and her trip to Japan had provided her the motivation and desire to check into anime. This just opened the floodgates of conversation for me!
I do not have a lot of friends in real life who watch anime, so I was excited! We talked about shows she was watching. I talked about the ones I was watching. She was watching so many different shows, in her words to “catch up on all she had missed up until this point.” She wanted to get a good understanding of anime over the past 20 years or so. And she was succeeding. It was really fun to talk to someone about something I feel so passionately about. I enjoy anime and like being able to talk to friends about it. I really wish I had more friends locally who liked anime. Having a friend who watches anime was great!
I went back to my hotel room that night and thought I had a pretty good day. Then I read my Bible and realized something incredibly important: I spent most of the day talking about anime and none of the day talking about Jesus. I was proselytizing about the goodness of Sakura Quest, but when it came to the God that I have professed as my Lord—I said nothing. I had missed the point and had not even considered sharing the Gospel of Christ with my friend.
As Christians we are called to evangelize. One of the last things Jesus said before He ascended into Heaven was a Great Commission for His followers to share His message with all peoples of the Earth. We are called, no required to do just that. How that looks in your everyday life may be different from person to person. It may involve personal conversations with friends. It may involve actions where you bring the Gospel through your good deeds to the people. It may involve missionary work far away from home. But, it should be involved in your day to day life. His name should come up daily.
And it doesn’t necessarily with me every day. I find myself “evangelizing” on behalf of various anime, Star Wars, Pokemon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or other fandoms in which I’m involved. I love my fun media and that’s okay. Enjoying art and media is not inherently problematic, but when we lose sight of the Gospel because of it we need to remind ourselves to focus. Jesus is at the center. His saving, self-sacrifice on the cross changed everything. He freed us from sin. He freed us from enslavement to the things of this world. He is sufficient to free us from the bondage of obsession with temporary. When we refocus, we are reminded of this truth. Let’s try not to forget it.
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8 thoughts on “Newman’s Nook: Evangelizing the Wrong Thing”
Thanks for writing such a challenging post! I’m definitely guilty of doing the same thing… I suppose that’s because I’m much less likely to be laughed at or criticised talking about anime than about Jesus! But that’s not really the point…
Thank you Ty-chama. I know exactly what you mean.
YASSSSS i am so guilty of this…SO Guilty.
It’s hard and super easy to get caught up in it.
Thanks for the challenging words. Will keep this in mind while I am at work. God, give me divine appointments to share Your word with others in Jesus name.
Very welcome. Glad to share it.
Then next time I suggest you lead off with Jesus. After all, talking about Jesus never makes anyone angry or uncomfortable, since absolutely everyone you encounter is ready and receptive and just waiting for someone to come along and share the Gospel message. And be sure to bring up Jesus before you even find out what she believes, if anything. I’m sure she’ll like that, too.
This post only goes to show that when it comes to evangelization, we Christians are our own worst enemies.
I believe there’s a way to talk about geeky things and have it lead to talking about Jesus. I understand what your saying, we need to be more excited to share the gospel but sometimes when we talk about why a piece of storytelling is moving and not just entertaining it can reach a person. There is no separation between being a child of God and being an otaku. Tolkien was a mythology guy with a crazy hobby to create new languages and he became quite the well know writer of the Lord of the Rings. He’s responsible for Elves and Dwarves as we know them. Him and Lewis loved talking about stories both SciFi and mythology. Like him our loves aren’t evil, it’s our willingness to understand the place for stories which gets it’s power from the Larger Story and our reflection of the Creator, as having creative energies like our artists/ storytellers. We have this idea that we must engage people with the Bible directly or speak in theological language but most of the time it just feel it as a kind of uncomfortable opportunistic attempt to get them to buy into something. It feels manipulative. If we would cultivate a certain way of seeing these things instead of just consuming them we would be able to hold out the hope people are looking for.
I’m being pretty vague but I’ve had my share of conversations and I just think most Christians have an inadequate concept about the godly use of the Imagination, the wounding Beauty, and the deep soul sustaining story in fiction. I’m an inadequate writer and my comment would be an essay if I did…..C.S. Lewis once said that there were four kinds of Love and each of those go their own way if they aren’t subject to Christ. In other words he didn’t abandon friendship love when he became a Christian but brought it under Christ. Not everything can be baptized and brought into the kingdom but as Calvin said where there is truth it is Christ’s. Narrative truth is a hard one for many to understand because it relies on the Imagination, the organ of meaning C.S. Lewis calls it.
I’m not sure I’ve fully made sense.