How should Christians respond to public irreverence toward Jesus?
What I mean by this is not, “how should we feel?” We have very little control over this.
I mean, “Should we petition, riot, whine, or write scathing commentary?”
In Matthew’s gospel we read this:
Matthew 12:31-32 ESV Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (32) And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Now, aside from one confusing issue of interpretation (what is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?)*, the rest of the passage is obvious. Jesus is completely willing to be insulted and to forgive those who insult him.
As Christians who rightly believe that Jesus loves us, that his death and resurrection have reconciled us to God, and who find in Christ the highest example of exemplary human character we might feel upset if Jesus is portrayed negatively in art or insulted. Yet, he saw it coming and was prepared to forgive those who did it. We should do the same.
There is a place in Paul’s letters where Paul says, “If anybody love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed (1 Corinthians 16:22).” But, in context, Paul seems to be referring to nominal Christians who do not live in accord with the gospel. The word, “anathema” probably means, “let him be rejected from the church body.” It’s not about insulting or defaming anybody, but, as Paul mentions earlier in the letter, removing people from places of honor in the church family in order that they might repent of their sins.
Anyway, there is a lot of art that is intentionally derogatory toward Jesus. The best way to respond is to ignore it or perhaps make better art. If such art is brought up with the intent to offend, overlook the offense and respond to the situation as basic social skills dictate.
*My take on blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is that it is a very specific sort knowing of public accusation that Jesus is in league with the forces of evil and that the work of God’s Spirit is the work of Satan for the sake of saving face. It’s not an honest mistake, nor is it even the same as rejecting the gospel.