We had a great time with our first BlogTalkRadio show last night with special guest McNair Wilson. If you missed it, you really didn’t. You can hear it again right here.
In McNair’s “Fifth Gospel,” as I mentioned in yesterday’s Catch, McNair changes the name of Jesus to Howard for the sake of getting people to think for ninety minutes outside the boxes of their preconceived ideas about Christ and Christianity. We are not advocating a name change, we are only asking people to consider, maybe for the first time, who Jesus really was.
McNair will tell you how over and over again he hears, after performing the “Fifth Gospel,” that if Howard is who Christ really was, that changes everything.
If someone encounters the story of a man who claimed to be the son of God, who performed miracles, had a miracle birth, healed people of their diseases, cast out evil spirits, touched lepers, wept at the tomb of a friend, ate with sinners and prostitutes, pushed over the tables of religious bigots making a profit off of God, loved children, laughed with his disciples, got frustrated with his disciples, forgave sinners, taught about loving your enemies, washed his followers’ feet, told us to go the second mile, died for the sins of the world whom he forgave while he was doing it and rose again after three days — if someone encounters all that (and this isn’t even close to the half of it) and says “I want to know about that guy. If that’s who Jesus really is, then I’m interested,” then you can call him George, Dick or Harry and it won’t matter, because they are truly hearing about the real Jesus for the first time. If you can change his name for ninety minutes and get someone to lose much of the wrong thinking they had about Jesus prior to this, it would be well worth it. And if someone previously biased against Jesus, heard the story of Howard and said they were drawn to the person in that story, then I would recommend that person start reading the gospels for themselves so they could find out who Jesus really was. All McNair did in his ninety minute play was get someone over the hump of their preconceived notions about Christ and Christianity.
All of this points out an important element when we are taking Christ to the marketplace: It’s necessary to find out what people know (or think they know) about Jesus and Christianity in the first place. We can’t just assume that when you say “Jesus” that everybody has the same person in mind. This is, of course, the value of art, and in this case theater. McNair is able to accomplish in ninety minutes what it might take us years to straighten out if we were to just talk about it.
I find it over and over again that the barriers people have to faith are the same barriers I would have if I didn’t know the truth. It’s imperative that we say what we mean and not just assume our Christian words and concepts will be received and understood with the same level of understanding we have. It’s not just about what we say; it’s caring about what someone heard that is also important.
It’s all about the story. If you get the story right, then Jesus, by any other name, is still Jesus.