I was reading this morning about the International Christian Retail Show which occurred July 9-13 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO and it led me to wonder what would Jesus think? Would he walk in there and start tipping tables and ransacking booths. Would he react like he did when he cleansed the temple? I do not know, but I wonder.
It seems as though we may have gone a little off the deep end concerning all the Christian merchandise. I myself have fallen victim to some of it purchasing Christian music and Christian themed clothing, but I wonder if Christ himself would have endorsed it.
I tend to agree with political scientist Alan Wolfe, who was interviewed by the LA Times for an article titled; Christian Retailers Put Their Print on Products. He states that “The effect of such products is to create almost a parallel universe, one that allows Christians to withdraw from the world instead of engaging it as Christ commanded.”
If he is correct, and feel free to disagree, I think this ever-expanding world of Christian retail is quite dangerous. We are making it quite comfortable for ourselves and as we do that we pull further and further away from the rest of civilization. I understand that we are called to be “aliens in this world” but is this what it really means? Should we really have our own music, clothing, etc.? How are we going to reach others if we are off in our own little world?
I think this problem with Christian retail is very similar to an issue we have in our churches as well. We have been too inwardly focused and it seems that the only time we gain members is when we transplant Christians from other churches. If we are not out engaging the world then we cannot expect to win others for Christ. And after all is that not our mission; to go out into all the world and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit? Odds are someone is not going to come to Christ by walking by our building on Sunday morning so we need to get out there. We need to be in the world, but not of it.
So, let’s not create for ourselves the parallel universe of which Alan Wolfe spoke by buying in to this consumerism that separates us from those we need to reach, but let’s get off the pews, get out there and engage the world.