In 2009, Dane Mitchell won New Zealand’s Waikato National Contemporary Art Award (about $11,000) for an installation he called “Collateral.” It consisted of the discarded packaging materials he had gathered from all the other exhibits vying for the prize. Needless to say the other entrants were not happy. (I found this news in News of the Weird)
It’s easy to see why they were upset: stuff that they believed had no value was shown to be worth something – and people don’t like to be proven wrong.
We especially don’t like to be proven wrong about our judgments of other people: we like to put everyone in their categories, and we expect them to stay there. If people show other dimensions of themselves, we are suspicious of them, rather than of our own judgment. This was a big piece of what made Jesus Christ so controversial: he announced and demonstrated to the world that every person has value and worth, even people who were categorized by others as “sinners” or “poor”. The elite and powerful (who thought that the categories they were in were the only ones that mattered) were upset to see someone claim that these other people were equally valued in God’s eyes.
Christians make the world mad in many ways – usually for our perceived intolerance. And intolerance puts us exactly on the opposite side of Jesus Christ. The only thing he was intolerant of was the misuse of power. If we want to make the world mad at us, then let us make them mad in the same way Jesus did: by declaring and demonstrating that every one of God’s children has gifts to share, and is more than a label.