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Monday, August 2, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Matthew 11

It’s kind of an odd thing for a pastor to say on his blog, but I’m not a fan of walking into many of the Christian bookstores I see around these days.

And why is that?

It’s because of the image of Christianity that many of these bookstores project. Walk into many and you will see things that make our faith incredibly commercially appealing. You’ll see porcelain plates, a variety of keepsakes, and royal pictures of Jesus in every direction. If you listen closely, you’ll also hear muzak piped in that is pleasant (but mind-numbing). In other words, when you walk into many Christian bookstores, you’ll be bombarded with sensory experiences that suggest our faith is a sanity faith – one that perfectly embodies the middle/upper middle class values.

That’s not the sort of faith Jesus has called me to embrace. I tend to see Jesus as a rebel who pushed the envelope: one who would challenge shoppers to divert the money they might spend on porcelain keepsakes and use it instead to feed the poor! The disconnect between who I understand Jesus to be and the commercial presentation of Jesus in these bookstores make it difficult for me to spend much time in them.

Jesus’ words to John’s disciples today reminded me of my difficulty. When John’s disciples asked Jesus if he was the one they were expecting, Jesus replied by making it clear what he represented. “Go back and tell John what’s going on: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting?”

When was the last time you saw a porcelain plate in a Christian bookstore with images of “the wretched of the earth learn[ing] that God is on their side”? But I digress…

Today, I would ask what sort of things you expect from following this Jesus. Do you expect to follow a triumphant military figure that will lead you to victories over all your foes (real or imaged); or do you expect to follow the one who will take you to places where the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the wretched hang out?

Til next time …

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