Out of the Abundance of the Heart: Bait and Switch?

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

This has been brewing in me for a good while. I know it will make some folks angry, but it’s just my opinion, and I probably don’t agree with most of yours. So calm down! First, I’m fascinated with the proliferation of foods referred to as “meat substitutes.” Now that’s fine and dandy – something that provides high biological value protein, lots of iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12 for folks who choose to avoid meat. A search of the advertising for veggie burgers, wieners, sausages, falafel, nuggets, etc., reveals that they all make some claim to look like meat, taste like meat, and even chew like meat. One company said they had “created a plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and satisfies like beef.”

Here’s my question: If meat is so inherently awful, then why do the majority of these products insist on disguising themselves as actual meat? It seems to me, given the obvious desire of we humans to eat meat, and the omnivore equipment in our mouths and guts, that God has provided us with the tools for meat eating. It’s built in. For that reason, instead of putting a big glob of blenderized beans, kale, and quinoa on a sandwich, the fake food industry fashions the glob into a patty that resembles meat. It’s easier to sell, because people want meat!

All this leads me to my real issue: Are we dressing up Christianity to look like, sound like, and conform to the world because we are convinced it’s easier to sell? Many churches I go to look more like a night club than a gathering of the saints. The lights are low (the better to not see too much or be seen too much). The atmosphere is set with purple neon and some light cans with smoke bombs (I’m waiting for Ozzy to come out and bite the head off a bat). Banks of flat screens flash with high-energy graphics moving to the pace of the music (Can you say, “Grateful Dead?” We didn’t need smoke machines as we produced plenty ourselves.) The high priest(-ess) struts and postures like Rod Stewart in a less elegantly tailored costume, and the music is so loud that jet engines weep with envy. (I’m wondering if OSHA would approve of some of our services. Many are 90 dB+).

After the concert, comes the pitch. The Bible may or may not be consulted, but if it is, the verses are projected on the flat-screens, complete with background graphics (God forbid we should ask people to just focus on that old, boring Scripture) This saves us from the incredible inconvenience of carrying a Bible, or even looking at the Bible app on our phones. I often wonder if a speech, no matter how professionally crafted and delivered, can be called Gospel preaching if:

· It doesn’t mention sin.

· It doesn’t mention blood.

· It avoids talking about the cross.

· It doesn’t ask for commitment.

· It doesn’t at least imply that we should change.

· It doesn’t make clear that eternal judgment is real and imminent.

Somebody Said: “Over the road there was a church: a modern gray building, which constantly played a recording of church bells. Strange it was. Why no proper bells? I never went in but I bet it was a robot church for androids, where the Bible was in binary and their Jesus had laser eyes and metal claws.” Russell Brand

Scripture Reading: The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. John 7:7 NKJV

Here’s the Point: I am fully aware of the necessity to change our methodology as the culture changes. We can be historic without being archaic. My question is, do we follow the culture or challenge the culture? When we look like the world and sound like the world, at what point do we become indistinct from the world? And finally, are we being dishonest by implying that being a Christian is just doing and thinking the same thing, only to Christian lyrics? I don’t like bait and switch, whether it’s at the grocery store or the Jesus store. It’s disingenuous either place. I know I am an old grump, but humor me. Think about it.

Virgil Stokes

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