I spotted this tee-shirt at my grandson’s tee ball game last Saturday. Most residents of rural NW Ohio are Evangelical/conservative Catholic. Jesus is on display everywhere one looks. There’s at least one church for every three hundred Defiance county residents. Republicans hold every major office save one. The lone Democrat is a Catholic. Atheists and agnostics are endangered species. Declaring your godlessness is a sure way to be socially ostracized and marginalized. If there is place where Jesus is King, this is it. Why then are local Christians obsessed with wearing Christian bling and displaying Jesus junk?
Take the woman wearing the Jesus Loves Me tee shirt. Does she wear it to remind herself that Jesus loves her? Or perhaps she wears it to let her fellow Christians know that she is on their team. I wonder if she has thought about who made the shirt, how old they they were, how much they were paid? Like American flags made in China, most Christian bling and Jesus junk is made by impoverished people who are paid a pittance of a wage.
My wife works for a manufacturing concern where Christian bling and Jesus junk is on display everywhere one looks. Christian slogans and Republican one-liners are prominently displayed on office walls and desks. I’ve often wondered what the response would be if someone put on their desk a sign that stated There is no God or that There is no God but Allah. This is will never happen, of course, because doing so would be career suicide. But, knowing how Evangelicals love to whine over having their feelings hurt, I wonder how Christians in the offices might respond. Would they demand the offensive signs be taken down?
Any cursory reading of the Bible reveals that Jesus preached a lifestyle of moderation and simplicity. I wonder if Evangelicals bother to consider what Jesus thinks about their bling and junk? Would the apostles have worn Jesus Loves Me tee shirts or adorned their wrists with a WWJD band? The apostle Paul went from community to community preaching the gospel and establishing new churches. I wonder what he would think of 21st century entertainment Christianity? If Matthew 5-7, the sermon on the mount, is the essence of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, where can one find such a follower? Rare is the Evangelicals who verbalizes their faith in hope of leading a person to Christ. Even in the IFB church, a sect that puts a premium on soulwinning, most church members never share their faith one time. If Jesus and the gospel is the greatest story ever told, why is it most Christians never share it?
I am of the opinion that Christian bling and Jesus junk are meant to identify one as part of the club. The purpose isn’t to evangelize, it’s to let everyone who gazes on their bling or junk know that they are part of Club Jesus®. When one puts on Jesus and goes to the mall, grocery, or restaurant, everyone will know what club they belong to. Granted atheists can do the same, but most atheists I know are content to quietly live their lives. And Muslims? When’s the last time you’ve seen a Muslim wearing a shirt that says Allah Loves Me or There is No God But Allah?
It is primarily Evangelicals who are obsessed with public displays of affection for Jesus. It is Evangelicals who co-opt culture and turn it into shirt worn slogans like This Bloods for You or Jesus died for MY SPACE in Heaven. Corporate slogans and logos and turned into cutesy sayings and plastered on tee shirts and bumper stickers. Why? Are Christian bling wearing Evangelicals over compensating for something they lack? What are they hiding behind the bling and junk?
Remember the manufacturing concern I mentioned above? Why is that some of the most hateful, argumentative, and critical people are those who have the most Jesus junk on their desk? Why does the car of the asshole who cuts you off in traffic often sport a Christian bumper sticker? I love to stand back and observe the behavior of God’s chosen ones. While certainly there are many thoughtful, polite, helpful, and humble Christians, why are so many of them arrogant, rude, and unkind? Ponder for a moment the comments left on this blog by warriors for God, warriors who likely have a Bible verse screen saver on their computer. For every Christian who has left a thoughtful, respectful comment, there have been a hundred Christians who’ve left a hateful, argumentative, judgmental one. Why is this?
While I was still a Christian, I concluded that hundreds of millions of Americans might be Christian, but most of them have no interest in following after Christ. They are more interested in avoiding hell and gaining political and social power than they are walking in the steps of Jesus. According to orthodox Christian doctrine, the Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Simply put, this means the Christian has God living inside of them as their teacher and guide. If this is so, then please explain to me why few Christians behave in a way that evidences this? Galatians 5:22,23 says:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Bruce, the fruit of the Spirit is the goal. God sanctifies the Christians and they grow and mature, evidencing the fruit of the Spirit later in life. Why is it then that so many people who have been a Christian for decades behave as if they have never heard of the fruit of the Spirit? Besides, Galatians 5:22,23 says the fruit (singular) is (present tense). Not a future hope or desire, but a present reality. Can one be a Christian and not give any evidence that God lives inside of them? The same could be said of the Biblical qualifications for being a pastor. I Timothy 3:2-7 states:
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
A bishop then MUST BE. Not hope or aspire to me, but must be. I will soon be 58 years old and I have yet to meet a pastor who meets the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3. Why is this?
By all means exercise your first amendment right to wear Jesus bling and display Jesus junk. But, if you want to convince me that I should be a Christian, you better start living according to the teachings of the Bible you say you believe. Until then, you have nothing to offer the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world.
As long as Evangelicals continue to publicly state that their religion is the one true faith and the Bible is THE moral standard by which Christian and non-believer alike must live, I plan to point out to Evangelicals how hypocritical they are. I’m just practicing what the Bible says…judging Evangelicals by their fruits. So far, all I see is barren trees.