The commoditization of christianity
The translation of the Bible that I frequenly use is called the Recovery Translation. Please read about it
There are subsequent links to Watchman Nee and Witness Lee on that page also.
When we think of salesman, usually it has a negative connotation…the used-car salesman, the copier guy (that was me). On occasion our vendor rep would come up from St Louis and he would ride with me for the day. He was mr flash/dig-city salesman in my small-town sales territory. Sometimes it was akward talking to my clients with him around, he was always like “hey, hey, hey!”, I’m here to sell you something. He was a nice guy, but it my area, that did not go over well. Perhaps if I were more like him, I would have sold more copiers!
Does the music you listen to ever come off as a commodity? I read an article yesterday that posited the idea that, because of the downloading of music, and the ability to instantly have said music, the ability to appreciate it, to relate to it on an emotional level has decreased. While there may be some truth behind the theory, I believe it is a quality/commodity issue. Whenever a band makes it big, there are immediately 100 imitators. Backstreet Boys/98 Degrees; sum 41/good charlotte/my chemical romance; britney/christina/lindsay blah blah blah. The list goes on. The market is saturated with crap. The so-called Christian market is no better. There is a Christian substitute for everything. We even create charts that say things like…”do you like Madonna?-Try Amy Grant!” The stupidest one I have ever seen is “Like Pedro the Lion?-Try Cool Hand Luke!” No offense to the boys from CHL, but did the people who created that chart ever listen to Pedro the Lion? With the exceptions of U2 or Derek Webb, David Bazan of PTL is creating the most honest, original and challenging lyrical content available from a Christian perspective on the market. But, because it is not “our brand” of christianity, because Bazan uses bad language, drinks beer and discusses things like murder and is not a Christian “like George W Bush” (actual quote), we write him off. Unfortunate. (More about music to come)
When you have attended church, have you ever felt bought and sold? Have you thought about the way we have been sold our faith? I remember growing up hearing that I needed more faith. When I was in college at Toccoa Falls College, I was told that I needed to let my “earring hole grow in and make it all count for God”. I was encouraged to avoid Glenn Black because, and I quote, “you know those drummers”. At one point, I followed James 5:16, and admitted failures to a mens groupd because I needed prayer, I needed deliverance and accountability. These same men proceeded to old it over my head and use it against me at every opportunity. We have been told that Jesus is all we need, and once we become Christians everything just gets better. Funny…I’m a Christian, but my parents are still divorced. I still get lonely. I still disagree with my wife. I still face temptation, and sometimes I wonder where God is. And because I do not always live like I have been called by God to live, ultimately that means that there are times that I do not believe the promises of the Gospel.
In 2 Peter 2, Peter warns the church to not be evertaken by false prophets and teachers. The Recovery Translation has an interesting take on verse 3…verses 1 and 2 talk about these false prophets, verse 3 details how they “in covetousness, with fabricated words, they will MAKE MERCHANDISE of you, for whom the judgment of old is not idle…” The false teachers and prophets buy you and sell you with their messages. We indeed are the “product”, the assembly line christianity here in America. We are born, some of us get sprinkled, we go to church, sunday school, youth groups, and along the way are told that “good Christians wear ties on Sundays”; “good Christians act this way”; “good Christians don’t raise hands/sing too loud/ask uncomfortable questions”; “good Christians vote republican”. The problem is not that these are bad or good things to do or not to do, the issue arises when we elevate them to a set of rules, when we create a new standard by which to live. Because we very quickly create a civic religion, a civic Christianity. It is my Christian duty to be a “good American”, and because I am a good american, with 2.5 kids, a house and 2 cars, God has blessed me. And because God has blessed me, I must be living right. When I do the things that Christians within my own context do, I fit in, I’m in the Jesus club. And those that don’t, well, they’re not “real” Christians. That is frightening theology. It goes against scripture.
The gospel is not a commodity to be “owned”. I would even go so far as to say, and I tread the line carefully, that we do not have a corner on the truth, for it is not ours to hold. Christ said “I AM the TRUTH”. He alone, and ONLY Him, is the REAL TRUTH. We can attempt to discern it, we can seek it and are even told that we will find it. But because all are sinners, you, me, Pat Robertson and Jim Wallis, we will, and do, fall short of the glory of God.
What is the point??
In Philippians, Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to work out their own salvation. We need to study scritpure. We need to seek our REAL TRUTH, as found in Christ alone. Then, we cannot be swayed. We cannot be bought and sold. We cannot fall for the party line-unless it is scripturally inline with the historic nature of God.