Growing up, I would often hear a couple titles constantly ascribed to me; things like “out of the box” and “imaginative” (most likely synonyms for “a handful"). But what they ultimately meant was I had a curiosity for life, and a wonder that reached beyond the mundane of the every day. Very little interested me more than stories, which naturally lendded itself to me spending my hours inside my own mind wandering the fantastic lands I would hear of in books, fighting the battles I would see in movies, and taking on the image of leading a life within a story of epic proportions. The books, films and games I would find my self caught up in, each told a story of a place more beautiful, epic, and grandiose than the one I currently lived. Filled with thought, beauty and whimsy they invited me into the magical tales they were weaving in my heart.
So now fast-forward fifteen years as me and my newly found adventure-partner (wife), climb into our ship (car) and head to something magical called Wonder-con. I had always wanted to go, but had never been able to for varying reasons such as time/money/schedule. So, as we landed in the land of Wonder-con (Orange County) and began to walk into the Wonder-con stronghold (convention center), I could feel the boy within me begin to fill with the magical excitement of entering a beautiful and epic story.
Wonder-Con is a convention held every year where thousands upon thousands of fantasy, sci-fi, superhero and all-around story lovers- convene to hear, see, taste, and touch the newest and most beautiful stories being told.
It is a place where you can walk booth to booth doing things like picking up swords, to playing the newest RPG video-game, to (my favorite) seeing up-close the beautiful works of original art and meeting the artists who brought them to life.
All of this, not to mention getting to witness the countless Cosplayers (people who dress up as their favorite characters) dressed in their handmade, intricate and beautiful costumes- making walking by a Storm Trooper, Aragorn, a Transformer, or even Superman something that falls in the realm of possibility. It’s a place where people have discovered and loosed the gift of their imagination upon the world. A place where people have realized the power of story and let its beauty effect, transform and invite us into a world beyond ours.
So naturally, as I walked past the miles of food-trucks closer to the convention center, my anticipation only rose. That was until we came upon the doors to the convention center. It was there I saw something that squelched my excitement.
There, in front of us and the thousands of excited story-lovers were a group of men and women dressed in kaki slacks, tucked in white shirts, a countenance of mild destain on their face, and large black and yellow signs in their hands that read “Sin brings God’s wrath” and “After death, the judgement” and the one that caused my heart to sink the most “Repent! and believe in Jesus”
Now at this point you might ask what it was that made me so upset upon seeing these devout followers. After all I love Jesus with my whole heart, and I do think we (all) should repent and believe in Jesus. But it was less the words on the signs that bothered me, and more the context and way they were being throw at people.
Hear me out... Here you have thousands of people, each one are story, art, beauty, and imagination lovers. All at the same place to give to and draw from the beautiful energy that each of these aspects can bring. And as they walk into something so beautiful, they are immediately confronted words representing Jesus, in a, guilt producing, fear inducing, people separating, coldly uniform way, and ultimately ugly way.
I don’t know about you, but this deeply bothered me. It bothered me because the “truth” they were espousing about my Jesus was the opposite of the message he gave his life to tell.
The Jesus I know is the teller of stories and the dreamer of dreams. He is the Jesus that told us of a beautiful land we were destined for should we follow him. A land leaving John desperate for words beautiful enough to describe this place after seeing only a glimpse of it.
The Jesus I know, is the artist who every night paints the sky with the very colors the imagined into life. He is the Jesus that hand crafted all of nature with it’s intricate beauty in flowers, trees, animals, mountains, crystals, eyes, storms, water, and all living things.
The Jesus I know, is the master story-teller who invites us into a new narrative of life, adventure and overcoming. He is the Jesus that’s helps us and gives us the chance to tell a more beautiful story than we ever could on our own.
So when I saw those people there, standing back to the the convention, yelling, judging and condemning... My heart sunk because I so desperately wanted everyone there, to know the Jesus I know.
I couldn’t help but see of the irony of a group so desperately trying to get the most creative people in the world to respond to Jesus, in perhaps the most uncreative way possible.
But it got me thinking... What would happen if: When we begin talking to the people who best love stories, beauty and imagination... We, instead of communicating fear and guilt, we start introducing them to the author, artist, and dreamer, of story, beauty and imagination? I don’t know, but I would be willing to guess, that maybe, just maybe some of these story/art/beauty lovers might actually want to know the creator of story/art/beauty.
So, today if you do know God, and want to share him with the world, perhaps start by showing the beauty of the God we follow.
And if you DON’T know Jesus, know this: God is the original storyteller, master artist, and the one who perfectly designed you with the desire to share in his pleasure. And he wants YOU- NO MATTER who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done to join in the story of EPIC proportioned He is telling.
I am so excited to announce I will be acting in a new Sci-Fi feature film - Keep an eye out for more details soon!