Friday, January 14, 2005

Religion: Missing the point

I think that some in today's church have become somewhat confused about just what exactly Jesus' message was. They seem to have turned this:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
Into this:
"Therefore go and build lobbies and auditoriums with big screen TVs for all nations, pulling them shots in the name of Starbucks and of Tully's and of Seattle's Best, and teaching them to sing praise songs and drive SUVs with Republican bumper stickers. And surely I am with you Sundays, to the very end of the worship hour."
When building flashy worship centers becomes your primary outreach tool, instead of simply showing people the love of the Father, something has gone wrong.

On the other hand, the Christians that wrap themselves up in WWJD merchandise and converse almost entirely in Bible verses have missed the point, too. They seem to have turned this:
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35 (NIV)
Into this:
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you wear Christian clothing, listen to Christian music, and make friends with non-believers that you may convert them as soon as possible."
It's no wonder that so much of the world considers Christians to be either Bible-thumping wackos or just "nice people" with nothing really special going on. Now, I'm not saying that churches with four big screen TVs in their lobby and churches whose idea of "community outreach" is handing out Biblical tracts aren't doing the Lord's work, but I am saying that I don't think they're doing the Lord's work in the way the Lord had in mind. In fact, it's a lot simpler than most Christians think. Our Lord Jesus put it best:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matthew 22:37-40
It's not that hard, people. Love God, and love others. Instead of spending those thousands of dollars on big screen TVs, how about spending it on food to help those in need, or help pay rent for a widowed mother who can't make ends meet? You'll never run out of people to help if you look. And instead of knocking on doors and shoving a tract in someone's face, why not try taking someone out to lunch and getting to know them as a fellow human being? Show them that God loves them by actually taking the time yourself to love them.
Categories: Personal, Religion, Serious

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a practicing Catholic of a "certain age" and as such haven't been exposed to much evagelizing in my life. It's simply something we don't do except with in the confines of our own faith communities.
While I agree that some of the churches have gone a bit far in merchandizing themselves and God, I think you are focusing on a very small minority and overlook the simple goodness and faith of most Christians and their communities. I think you are generalizing much to much. As a practicing Catholic, I have had limited experience with other faiths, but have been in a few churches of different faiths and did indeed find the espresso cart in the vestibule quite disconcerting. BUT, if it draws people into their faith community what's the harm? If kids are willingly wearing clothes, pins, bracelets and/or hats proclaiming their faith, isn't that preferrable to them wearing things celebrating some of the uglier sides of life? If lattes and t-shirts precipitate the discussion and then some understanding of God, Jesus and faith, then they are indeed helping to teach and in teaching, learning Gods love.

11:39 AM, January 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. You miss the point alright. Try again. This time, try to get beyond the reasoning of an 8th grader.

3:49 PM, January 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... Yep. You miss the point alright. Try again. This time, try to get beyond the reasoning of an 8th grader. -1/16/2005 03:49:24 PMTo whom are you referring? Me, the practicing Catholic 'anonymous' or the author of this commentary?

6:38 PM, January 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unlike the second anonymous, I think the reasoning here is pretty decent, but maybe based on incomplete data.

I am a Christian primarily because a family I met did precisely what Skor suggests, by *showing* me Jesus love instead of just telling me about it. They put their real money -- time -- where their mouth was, and made the effort to know me and care about me and my family.

The church of which I'm now part is similar. They believe in truly loving others, and in true discipleship which requires a long-term intimate friendship to accomplish.

Skor sees no problem with Christian artifacts (clothing, music, etc.), however, he seems to take exception to something superficial supplanting something substantial. Seeking converts for marks on your belt while wearing the latest Christian fashion statements sort of trivializes what Jesus came to do, doesn't it?

6:47 PM, January 16, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

Thank you Anonymous #4. I'm not saying coffee stands or Christian clothing or other items mentioned are inherently bad things, just that too many people have missed the point and seem to think those are what "religion" is all about, when the greatest commandment is that we love.

9:26 PM, January 16, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

RE: Anonymous #1:
BUT, if it draws people into their faith community what's the harm?

The danger, I think, is that these people may not be "drawn" to the love of Christ, but rather drawn to some free coffee. Note that Jesus often did everything he could not to "draw" people into following Him. Take for example the "Rich Young Ruler." He came to Jesus and flat out asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus knew the one thing that he treasured most and would have the hardest time giving up to follow Him. He cut straight to the heart of the matter, and told him to give up his riches, causing the man to leave, disappointed. What Jesus didn't do was try to draw the man in and then later ask him to give the Father his all.

I fear that if a church has flashy big-screen TVs and coffee stands so they can "draw" people in, then those people that they succeed in drawing in are going to be missing out on the fullness of what God has to offer them. His abundance isn't about our creature comforts or our catchy slogans. Thankfully, it's a bit more everlasting than that.

Wow, this post and the following discussion has taken quite a bit more of a serious turn than my usual banter. What other blog can you find such witty banter and theological discussions side-by-side?

9:41 PM, January 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An organization needs to exist before it can benefit anybody else. An individual needs to be equiped before they can be effective. In today's high-tech, fast paced, no time, culture. The church needs to attract people that don't know about all the Christian concepts that you talk about. The church then needs to teach and equip them to serve. Many of these high-tech, coffee rich, churches support missions and ministries across the world - sending people and aid to areas that are often not reached or served by governments or other NGOs.

Some people will not want or appreciate this type of church, but for those that are comfortable in this envionment, they can be goodness.

Also, arguing that money would be better spent by feeding the poor than buying a big-screen TV misses the point that a large congregation will continue to assist thousands of people around the world on an ongoing basis. It is about balance. Ministry here, to our own people (even those people that have money) is as important as ministering to the poor in Thailand. We can do both.

Jesus didn't spend all of his time feeding the poor, or healing the sick, or teaching his Apostles. He balanced His life and His ministry.

9:45 PM, January 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really isn't about religion at all - it is about faith in Christ and the minitries that the faith launches.

9:46 PM, January 16, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

It is about balance. Ministry here, to our own people (even those people that have money) is as important as ministering to the poor in Thailand. We can do both.

I agree, it is about balance. That is why you didn't see me writing that all money spent on technology or the like is a waste. But seriously, show me a "ministry" that requires four large flat TVs (basically a jumbo-tron) in a church lobby. It's just this nobody blogger's opinion, but I think that has crossed the line from "useful ministry" into "frivolous eye-candy."

7:52 AM, January 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey.....that's the CCC (Covenant Celebration Church) in Lakewood, isn't it? I know it is! I understand why you chose those pictures for this post. The atmosphere there made me very uncomfortable. Sure, the coffee's good, but the whole place just reeks of...fake. Everything's larger-than-life, everyone's smiling, clapping. But it feels like a meaningless spectacle. The atmosphere is so impersonal. There is a certain demeanor expected of you, and if you don't fit, well, if anyone notices then they might pressure you to change. But no-one seems to want to show real compassion and understanding. Bah, this is becoming rambling...was surprised to see that place.

P.S. If you're ever around there again, stand outside the main building and just look at the sheer size of it. I call it the "Jesus Dome." Say it in a big booming voice and you'll understand. "Sunday sunday SUNDAY at THE JESUS DOME! It's Pastor Kevin Gerald with a hard-hitting sermon that'll leave you on the edge of your pew!"

1:54 PM, January 25, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

Hey.....that's the CCC (Covenant Celebration Church) in Lakewood, isn't it? I know it is!

Incidentally, it isn't. In fact, it is a "church" that I pass every day to and from work. Although I have to admit that while I intended to take my own pictures, I actually got these pictures off of their website. I won't say what church it is, although I'm not surprised that it closely resembles the manufactured Christianity found in other "churches" as well. It's funny and sad at the same time.

2:03 PM, January 25, 2005  
Blogger ninjanun said...

Jesus didn't spend all of his time feeding the poor, or healing the sick, or teaching his Apostles. He balanced His life and His ministry.Yeah, he also prayed occassionally, was tempted by Satan, preached the Gospel (what gospel did he preach before he fulfilled it?) and died for our sins. There's also some rumor that he rose from the dead. :p

4:13 PM, February 02, 2005  
Blogger Ariel said...

Well put! I especially like the modern Churchian re-interpretations of the Bible. Right on target. Thanks for your comment on BitterSweetLife as well. Any day someone says "Spot on, chap" has to be a good day. ;)

11:05 AM, February 18, 2005  
Blogger DaButtminster said...

I just read this article:

http://news.com.com/Is+Jesus+the+next+killer+app/2100-1025_3-6066157.html?tag=nefd.lede

and it reminded me of your thoughts in this post.

8:17 AM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

church can be fun. you don't have to sit in some pew for an hour or sing old songs. you can jump and praise God to songs that aren't all "gospel-ish" i go to Champions Centre. and i absolutley love it. our hearts are in the right place. there is nothing wrong with having nice things in a church. modernizing church makes it attractive. and after all we are supposed to make the church attractive, we're supposed to make it shine. :D it's not bad to have a nice church. we are prospering. thats what we were all called to do.

9:55 PM, July 20, 2008  

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