For the longest time, I was annoyed by people posting pictures or verses that are supposed to represent God or their faith. I thought maybe it’s just because it was these people’s way of proselytizing on facebook or some other thing. Then I remembered that I am also horribly annoyed by most “christian” book stores. So that probably isn’t the reason why I was annoyed by it. Maybe it’s just because I was jaded and cynical. So I put off discussing it thinking that it’s just something I need to work on in myself, and I needed to be better about forgiving and letting things go. Then it hit me. A few weeks ago as I was considering how best to communicate church events in a way that would be meaningful and get the message across, I realized what it was that left a bad taste in my mouth about those things that annoyed me. Yes, I may still be overly critical, jaded, and cynical; but I think I discovered something. What I discovered was that those sentiments and most (if not all) “christian” book stores are so terribly and disturbingly cloying that they completely miss the mark of who and what God is.
I feel like our culture has turned God into a motivational poster. I don’t think we did it on purpose, no. But I think that so many people end up using their faith or scriptures to say, “Hey, Look at me! I’m a Christian! I am going to live my life-like this thing, hopefully.” They acknowledge God with their facebook posts walk out the door and live like God’s love had never existed in the first place. Here is a for instance: On Saturday, Cathy and I were driving up to Denver to go visit IKEA to get a Christmas present that we had put off going to get for a while. As we were heading up, not once, but twice we were almost forced into rear ending a truck that had an ichthys on its rear bumper. This truck was not driving safely. It was almost running people off the road and almost caused several accidents in the short time that we were around it. Now ask yourself does that paint a good picture of Christ? You have his symbol on the back of your vehicle, yet you drive like a maniac? The two are incongruous.
My point is not that we shouldn’t have these things: Scripture verses on facebook, “christian” book stores, or religious themed car decals. My point is that we trivialize the divine. We make our narcissistic image of faith more important than a real relationship with the divine. I mean think about it, who is all that for? Is a facebook post just for you and God? No, it’s about sharing it with people who agree with you. Is an ichthys decal for you and God? No, it’s to show off that you are a christian. I think the big question we all have to ask ourselves is: Do we really want to be in a relationship with the Divine? Or Do we want to just look good in front of other people? I’m not saying that all of these things are disingenuous, but the motivations of most are questionable at best.
God is bigger than all of these things. God asks us to give up all of that struggle for image and power and instead to treat each other as equal. That we are all loved and perfect just the way we are. We started to use these things to segregate, differentiate, and alienate others. The power and beauty of the divine has been diminished to the likes of a motivational poster. Ignored by most, and special to only a few. A relationship with the divine should be a freeing and empowering opportunity, not a binding and disenfranchising obligation. Jesus once said that He came so that we may not only have life, but have it to the fullest. I think one of the things that disturbs me the most about the things that I mentioned is that most of them trivialize God and make God a small and insignificant thing… But maybe I’m just too cynical and jaded…