Phones

The movie premiere

Last night I attended a premiere for a movie that will be released on Christmas Day. While the movie contained some thought provoking ideas, today I find my thoughts lingering over the behavior of those present.

This movie preview was offered to people in ministry. As each one of us arrived at the cinema, we walked to a table and handed over our invitation.  Toward the bottom of that invitation, a bullet point announced no recording devices of any type, including smart phones, would be permitted to enter.

I left my phone in the car. Imagine my surprise to discover  Androids and IPhones lighting up our group like a Christmas tree as we waited to enter.

Sure, I can distinguish between the intent of the prohibition and a strict legalistic conformity. I even assumed this particular crowd would not record any portion of the movie. Furthermore, security officials honed in on the objective by repeatedly instructing us to turn off all recording devices before entering. The last individuals turned off their phones about a minute before the film began. Mission accomplished.

However, the reinforcing of unhealthy subtle lessons concerns me. The evening could have been handled better.

If no intent existed to enforce “recording devices will not be permitted to enter” why make the claim? Why not simply state the truth? “You will not be permitted to record any part of the film.”

Ironically, the Christian organization who built this unnecessary hedge to guard against violating the real objective reminds me of how the Pharisees operated. While the Pharisees enforced their hedge of protection, Jesus cut to the root by exposing the dangers and failings of unnecessary laws.

I wonder whether our hearts become calloused by unnecessary laws and the practice of treading upon clear directives, even if we intend to comply with our understanding of the intent. Do these reinforce a perspective of being above the message?

I watched our group with their smart phones still lit up file past the security officers. The officers repeated their message, “You know the rules. Turn off all phones and recording devices.”

How could I not wonder about how those officials perceived this group claiming to follow Christ? As a group did our behavior encourage those officials to draw closer to Christ or did we provide a subtle reason to keep him at arms length?

The evening could have been handled much better on every side.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They have two boys attending university.

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