Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Good News and Gangsters

For my Friday/Laundry-night movie I watched American Gangster. I figured it would be good since it had Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in it. It was good - gritty good, provocative good. It was also a dirty movie, not that this is what made it good, but it was disturbing to me in that I live a clean, "safe", crime-free life.

Which got me to thinking: as a pastor, how would I possibly begin to speak the good news into the lives of the people caught up in the drug-riddled, crime-contaminated city? For the corrupt cops and evil crime-bosses, what can the church do to help them resist their darkness?

Being a Hollywood movie, and knowing that this movie - even though it is based on a true story - is mostly fictional...the church did figure into the movie. The main antagonist of the film, Frank Lucas, brings his church attending mama to live with him. In fact the day Lucas is arrested is a Sunday, and the cops meet him immediately following the service. Prior to the worship service, Lucas' mama had confronted him about his dirty work - she says that she never wanted to ask her son where he got all the money because she didn't want him to lie.

The church in this case was either complicit in the corruption or else very, very naive. So many cops had either turned their eyes away, or were willing to take cash to keep quiet or help out just a little bit. Maybe the church had also looked the other way, or felt like it was benefiting from the money too much to make a fuss.

Are there churches out there that are seriously considering how good the good news would be for the slums and drug-infested ghetto's? Most churches I know are focused on keeping kids and youth safe, providing a safe atmosphere so we can stay pure and holy. But that means looking the other way when the gangsters and rich/corrupt politicians and selfish/greasy businessmen keep pushing their slime onto their neighbors and regions.

Watching the movie made me feel like the gospel is really quite impotent against gangster-darkness. I know God is always at work in this world fueling justice and mercy in all its forms: I bet he'd like to see more church's stick out their neck more often and join him in his "dirty" work.

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