If you were/are a fan of the TV series The Office—or just a TV fan in general, you are probably familiar with The Mindy Project. The shows stars Mindy Kaling, who played Kelly Kapoor back in the day at Dunder Mifflin, and now she is a OB/GYN in a topsy-turvy New York world.
The Mindy Project is a cleverly written sit-com with enough drama to keep its fans tuned in, but I find the show’s take on religion especially insightful—especially its stereotypical depiction of Christianity. Catholic and Hindu references abound, but The Mindy Project delved deeper into its perspective on evangelicals when it introduced and maintained the Lutheran minister character named Casey.
In a way, Casey is the complete package of so many Christian stereotypes wrapped into one. He has the major “pastor” hairstyle, he is likeable and carries an oddball goofiness that makes you want to hang around with him, but there are two quotes from this trained minister that definitely deserve further discussion.
The first is this… Casey: “Great to see you, but do you have any idea how hard it was for me to get these kids interested in Christianity? I had to tell them the apostles were the original One Direction and they barely bought it.” (Source: tvfanatic.com/quotes)
And the second is this… Casey: [wanting Mindy to become a Christian] “I mean, don’t you wanna spend eternity in heaven together, just strumming harps and playing doubles tennis with Abe Lincoln and Tupac?” (Source: wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Mindy_Project)
To be sure, both of these lines are hilarious, but what this confirmed in my mind is that the world must know what those inside the church walls have long recognized about evangelicals today—
We are going about it the wrong way!
What I mean is, oftentimes our efforts to reach our friends with the gospel and tell people about heaven look much too like a culturally referenced sales pitch. What makes those lines from Casey so hilarious is that they are completely believable—right? Can’t you picture some youth group band somewhere putting Christian lyrics into a 1D song? And don’t we try to make heaven sound like some experience that we could dream up on our own as opposed to an indescribable encounter with Jesus Christ?
And to top it off, Casey has completely compartmentalized his pursuit of God from much of his morality and lifestyle.
I guess what stings the most about watching Casey is that he reminds me a bit of me. How often do I try and peddle the gospel by attaching it to shifting pop culture references? How blind am I to my own compartmentalization and hypocrisy that devastates my efforts to represent Jesus Christ in my little corner of the world?
But there is a solution—and if you haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions yet, this would be a great one to have as a theme for 2015. These are some of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples (not One Direction), and they are completely applicable to everything I have mentioned so far:
“Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:33-35, NLT [emphasis mine]).
We want the world to know Jesus, correct? We know the love and forgiveness and purpose and value that walking with the Savior brings, and the best way to get the good news out is to simply love each other as Christ loved us!
And how did Jesus love us? Unconditionally. Sacrificially. Permanently.
He came to earth, suffered and died to demonstrate His love. He didn’t try and sell the gospel with coolness or pitch heaven in understandable cultural references, He simply loved in word and deed until that love cost Him His life.
And friends, if we did more of that instead of imitating the success strategies of the world, THE Cause would explode before our very eyes!
Look—I get being like Casey—and I understand why, as well. But how about we focus more on serving each other sacrificially and loving each other unconditionally? Let’s bale on the gossip and judging and speak kindly and acceptingly of our brothers and sisters, it will crack the door open for our friends to hear and understand what this whole Christianity thing is truly supposed to be about.
And please…never equate anyone in the Bible with One Direction!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Start the New Year right by committing yourself to loving others as Jesus loved you. Look at your life to see where the hypocrisy and inauthenticity is rooted, and let the Holy Spirit create a new heart within you!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, forgive us for trying to be like the world and sell the gospel in cultural terms. Help us to love each other as Jesus loved us, so that the world will know that we truly follow You.
Read: John 17:21. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
Get: Reckless…Following Jesus to the Point of No Return. Check out Zane Black’s latest book, Reckless, and explore the epic and sometimes risky adventure of following Jesus! Jesus went all in for you. Are you ready to go all in for Him?
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Want to share this with your students? Copy and paste the following text message: “Looking for a New Year’s Resolution? Keep it simple and love each other. Read more in this week’s devo: http://hubs.ly/y0pT6P0“
Big Idea: Casey from The Mindy Project is a reminder of many things we Christians should not be to the world.
Key Scripture: John 13:33-35
- Do you think there are many Christians out there like Casey? Why or why not?
- Why does the world see so many Christians as hypocrites?
- How can you start loving others as Christ loved you?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?