Friday, February 26, 2010

Jesus Christ- superstar?

i have seen a lot of churches, youth rallies and religious events spend a lot of time, effort and money on marketing. they use flashy graphics and catchy subtitles to grab our attention. in fact i have seen so much of this that i too feel the pressure to be trendy when i advertise events i plan or invite people to be a part of our youth group. i can't just call the event 'youth group Bible study,' i have to call it 'the edge' or 'superfantastical scripture search' or 'Jesus jam.' otherwise, it's just a boring old Bible study where we will learn more about the story we claim to believe in and follow and claim as our own, and that has no draw.

the problem is that Jesus is not marketable. he is not cute like the jonas brothers (and thankfully does not wear skinny jeans like them either). he does not spew out one liners to laugh about with your friends like will ferrell. he is not over the top like lady gaga. knowing Him does not give you prestige or special back stage passes. in fact, He is quite the opposite. listening to His teaching will bring conviction, not entertainment. knowing Jesus and truly following Him almost guarantees you will experience ridicule, persecution and trials. try to market a deodorant with this tagline... fights odor, leaving you smelling fresh under the pressure of the impending beatings and mockery you will endure for using our product. i'd give you about 2 weeks until you went under. i think in a way, the church understands that, and has adapted our Savior's image in order to be more attractive. we are not, in most cases, marketing the true Jesus we read of in Scripture.

that is the church, but i resonate with this point on a personal level, too. i struggle because i want people to follow Christ, but it is difficult. i am not writing to say 'i have this down, why can't the rest of you get it together?' i write this because giving up everything and following Christ is difficult and at times i don't want to do it. i have moments where i feel more like the rich young ruler, unable or unwilling to lay down my treasure and abandon my comfort in order to embrace His life. sometimes it would be easier to market Jesus as the key to health and wealth, but it would not be honest. Scripture reminds us that it is not a superstar we are called to follow and emulate, but rather a suffering Savior. so i will ask the ultimate question- is the version of Jesus being promoted by your church (and more importantly your life) the Jesus of Scripture? i pray that our answer, if it is not already, can someday be a resounding yes.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

525,600 minutes

next wednesday will be exactly one year from the day i moved from metro detroit, michigan to salem, indiana. i must confess i almost moved right back when the first song i heard on the radio here was 'achy breaky heart,' but i am glad i stuck it out. it has been quite an amazing year. so in celebration, i will list the things i have learned about culture, church and myself in my time here. enjoy!

1. you'ens (or however it is spelled) is a phrase i will never use or understand no matter how often the people around me use it. i don't even know what two words it combines. ya'll is you and all. you'ens is you and... chickens? citizens? or is it young and ones? i don't know and do not really care to know.
2. having a section in your local newspaper where people can call in whatever comments they want is dangerous because it reveals a lot of ignorance, but it is also highly entertaining. 90% of the reason i get the paper is for this section.
3. people in small towns are generally a lot friendlier and a lot more likely to chat with you. in the suburbs, i could go days or weeks without a stranger acknowledging me. here, people will at the very least nod or tip their hats to you, but will more likely greet you verbally.
4. people are people no matter where they live. we all have problems. we all need grace and forgiveness. the size and setting of the church i work for is immaterial- the need for Jesus is universal and cross cultural.
5. goats are not that hard to wash. i wish i knew this from observation, not experience...
6. overalls are actually strikingly comfortable. i can see why agricultural types wear them now- very comfortable and pretty much zero chance of my crack showing when i bend over.
7. being 'metrosexual' is very contextual. i think here it must mean 'does not own anything with john deere on it,' because even i am a metrosexual here.
8. i absolutely love being involved in youth ministry. after being away from it for a while, coming back has reminded me how encouraging it is to see young people change, grow and ask tough questions.
9. i can, in fact, survive without internet at home. i used to think it would be impossible, but i honestly don't even miss it that much.
10. my life is good. in the past i have looked for things to whine about, but moving here has made me realize how blessed i am to have a great family, an amazing fiancee and a wonderful church family who has embraced a weird city boy like i was their own. God is good!

i am sure there are many other lessons i have learned, but 10 is a good round number so i will quit for now. i hope those of you reading this had a year that was just as great as mine was.