Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christmas Consumerism and Jesus Junk.

Christmas Consumerism and Jesus Junk.

We complain about Christmas become consumerism, yet… what about our churches…

I read John O’Keefe’s article on cheesy Jesus junk… and wonder how far we are from the world in our peddling of Jesus… this is much different than say going to a conference to hear a speaker. The very fundamental difference is like when Jesus cleared the Temple of the money changers making money off the people who desired to have a properly kosher sacrifice. Conferences cost a lot of money to put on. Though I think many are way over priced, I do not feel any pressure to attend one as I would have been compelled by having to have a perfect and kosher sacrificial animal.

Again, the difference is that people are getting ripped off by “prayer clothes”, and water that is more holy as it came out of the Jordan River (which I doubt). This is often to support some ministry and those who are asked are made to feel guilt if they do not support that ministry.

I think things like the “Birth Verse” is one of those things as John pointed out. It is a cheesy way for someone to make a buck on Jesus’ name. This again is much different then going somewhere, to learn something, or buying a book to read or even learning videos and other tools to help one with ministry or have fellowship with one another. I see a big difference in buying a bobble head Jesus for my car over seeing some well know speaker who would cost me a great deal of money… say like John Maxell or attending a emerging church convention, or even a SBC conference.

I have heard people complain about stores using “holiday” as a generic greeting, leaving Christians all in a tizzy over that they have dropped “Christmas”. Rarely have I heard anyone complain of the crass commercialization of this Christmas they are fighting to retain…

In the scripture Jesus cleared the temple of the money changers… These were those who made their money by exchanging money for a “fit” sacrifice for the temple. If the values were equal and not inflated, this would most probable not been a real issue as I do not see that making money is evil… it is if one exploits the other in the exchange… The wrong is in the taking advantage of the lesser to gain more.

I remember years ago I wanted a NIV Bible… as that was the version that was the one used in the church I attended. I was excited and though I had an old KJV (I had a real hard time in understanding it), I had $20 bucks and headed on down to the Christian book store… I went with great anticipation to the bible section only to find I was about $15 dollars short. We had hoped to buy two Bibles as my wife wanted one also… and we were still short… If I remember right we wrote a check and scraped together the rest of the money so the check would not bounce…. So we could have a NIV bible. Many Christian book stores claim to be a ministry, and some really are… yet most our out to make a buck and stay in business. I do not think they were obligated to give me a discount… and they may have given a bit of one… it was many years ago… I just remember the feeling as I stood there realizing I would not be able to buy the Bible I had in mind. I was frustrated and a bit confused as to why the Bible would cost so much if Salvation was freely given to all.

Since then I have seen more and more Jesus junk that just seems to fit those who are content on having something that in all honesty will only appease the flesh and not the spirit. Now before some of you get you panties in a bunch I am not saying that capitalism is all wrong anymore than the claim that some of my friends in the emerging church teach communism… money and commerce need to be handled from an ethical and biblical perspective. That is what we are saying in the emerging church. We need to use money for its intended purpose of blessings others as we have been blessed.

So this Holiday Season… remember others and bless them. Reach out and be Christ’s hand to others.


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