As The World Turns

One of my all time favorite cartoons was Charlie Brown. The Peanuts gang was a diverse group of kids made up of boys, girls, and even a dog and a bird. They were talented in their own ways and worked through a lot of difficult situations. And as some of you with kids might know, a new Peanuts movie is in the theaters.

I read a recent article titled ‘How Peanuts Took Faith to Culture’. The G-rated movie remains reverent to the original series, a cartoon series that witnessed Linus reading the Biblical Christmas story from the book of Luke. A controversial issue even in the 60’s!

Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, had been a Sunday School Teacher.But rather than sounding ‘preachy, he looked at the beauty and charm of a childlike perspective regarding the difficulties in life. For Schulz, it wasn’t about IF bad things would happen to us, it was about how we deal with them WHEN they happen. Because no matter how much we try to deny or avoid difficulties, they will come.

Even Schulz’s heros were flawed. They looked similar to Peter, David, Moses, and Paul; sinful, messed up Biblical heros. Snoopy for example, often got the Peanuts characters out of trouble or guided them with canine wisdom. This dog character in some ways was a hero and yet deeply flawed. He was lazy, sarcastic, sometimes a coward, and through his dreaming it was evident that there were moments in which he was weary of being a dog. In other words, he was a fairly accurate caricature of the typical Christian.

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang dealt with deep issues related to faith. They confronted struggles such as loneliness, insecurity, sadness, and complicated relationships without trying to hide or deny them. Despite their best efforts, sometimes the characters failed.

In the words of the article’s author, “Schulz’s highlighting of human nature wasn’t an indictment on people [judging their shortcomings] or a way of showing disdain for them. It was a way of underscoring all of our brokenness, and how remarkable it is that God still loves us unconditionally, whether we get fixed or not. God’s grace never changes. It doesn’t matter if we ever do kick the football, or if we fall down every time we try. God has promised to always be there.”

The world continues to turn no matter what we are going through. Life is a journey, anything but perfect, with opportunities to grow and mature in our faith. Through the generations we see the end of previous norms and new beginnings. Change is going to happen. Change needs to happen if we plan to remain relevant to new generations.

The Church is not immune to change and has been evolving since the life of Jesus. The way Church has been practiced for decades (or longer) is no longer sustainable. People are leaving the old programmatic styles and traditions. How are we going to transform from doing Church to being Church in the 21st century? Like the Peanuts gang, it takes courage and vulnerability to face our need for change. The Body of Christ will need to look in the mirror and ask, where is my trust? Is it in God or is it in my traditions?

Death and resurrection is the basis of the Christian faith. It is not limited to physical death and eternity in heaven. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!”

Referring to the temple in Jerusalem, one of the disciples said, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” Jesus responded, “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; all will be thrown down.”

Buildings and traditions come and go but God never leaves. God transcends traditions, styles, and habits. In an evolving world that can be difficult to accept, Jesus is still present. How do we, like Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, face the reality of difficult issueswith courage and trust that God is at work? How do we proactively lead the Church in a new era?

We don’t live in a vacuum, frozen in time like a museum. We are called to share the Gospel message in whatever context we find ourselves. Christ’s promise of love and forgiveness has survived 2,000 years while the way that it has been delivered is always changing. Let’s remember that the place or tradition of worship is not the foundation of our faith. Jesus is. As the world turns and time moves forward, our priority and trust must remain in Christ as we walk into an unknown future. Amen.