*The following is a snippet of an untitled writing project I’m working on for this blog. It’s a snippet of a larger chapter on the mission of the Church.
Counter or Sub?
Once the church strays from her core mission, she will entangle herself with things that undermine the very mission of the church. In our haste to deal with the depravity of culture, some of us have created our own subculture in which to escape.
For instance, in a recent article, the Los Angeles Times reported in a column entitled “What Would Jesus Sell?” on the staggering profitability of the Christian retail industry, especially those that offer products with Bible verses tattooed on them. Plain white golf balls might work for Tiger Woods but for the believer, we must have John 3:16 on them. Ladies, do you want to smell heavenly? Well, there is now Virtuous Woman to catch that unsuspecting unbeliever’s attention. As its creator insists, “It should be enticing enough to provoke question: ‘What’s that you’re wearing?….Then you take that opportunity to speak of your faith. They’ve opened the door, and now they’re going to get it.” I suppose that I have labored in vain, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ while wearing that heathen Calvin Klein’s Escape perfume (it’s still my favorite perfume).
The article was headed for my trash bin until I read further and found an interesting insight from Alan Wolfe, a political scientist and director of Boston College’s Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life. Wolfe states, “It’s as if they’re saying the task of bringing people to Jesus is too hard, so let’s retreat into a fortress.”
What Wolfe calls a fortress, I call an unhealthy subculture. Essentially, we create faith in a vacuum, inviting unbelievers into the suction of our stifling, religious, and sometimes, graceless worlds. I am not saying that notebooks that say “I Love Jesus” are wrong. But I believe that if we allow products to replace engaging people with two-footed proclamation of the gospel, then we are fooling ourselves. The Great Commission, not our products, is what we are to be about. If Jesus took a cord to the peddlers in the temples, I wonder what He would do at our local bookstores and “conferences.” I shudder to even think about it.