This is a rant about Testa-mints. Anyone remember those? Perhaps they still exist. These were little mints in the shape of cute little crosses which box had inspirational sayings on them. I attribute much of our evangelical irrelevance to Testa-mints.
Why? Because Testa-mints are the worst example of our evangelical ability to diminish the God of the Universe to a cute little kitschy box of mints in the shape of crosses. When I look at the evangelical church, I see a group who is highly relational and who has owned the fact that the Lord, Jesus, has offered us salvation for free if we believe in him. He has ripped the veil in two allowing any person to have direct contact with God. God is our friend whom we can talk about anything with.... and all of this is incredibly good
BUT... When I lok at the Catholic church, the Orthodox churches and the Hebrew church and faith, I see a very different treatment of Jesus. These churches have an incredible reverance for Jesus...the CHRIST who came, God as man, and sacrificed his life so that mankind could live. I see a picture of the God who created all and who must be worshiped. I see the fear of an all-powerful God of a people who, out of love, chose to engage and offer us the ability to be princes and princesses among men and sons and daughters of the Lord most high.
This is not the same picture we get from the hymn "What a friend we have in Jesus".
The reality is that both are correct. Jesus is highly relational and asks us to be his friend. brother and confidant with everything.. even the most mundane. But we are also supposed to realize that this "friend" is the most awesome power in the universe and heaven, a fiercely loyal, mighty, just, and powerful God.
I believe that the perfect moments picture of Jesus is one of the reasons why we as evangelicals have become irrelevant in contemporary society. To me, saying that the cause of Christ is irrelevant is porbably the worst insult to Christians that I can imagine because it means we have not fullfilled the Great Commandment fully or the Great Commission at all.
The question is, how does our picture of Jesus hurt the cause. The answer is in the Testa-mints. We have reduced our God, the God of the Universe, to a simple, trite marketing campaign focused mainly at a Christian market, using nothing but poor artistry, kitsch, and syrupy sentimentality as the content. Then we throw a bible verse on it and the bible verse has cute little flowers and bumble bees springing out of the lettering. I find it gross. It is as if we are alright with the comfort of Jesus but not with the power of the Christ.
So non-believers see our attempts at relevance as passe, cheap, kitsch, and bland. And we ask them into this world? We say "Jesus wants to be your friend, he is the ultimate power and can free you from bondage...but don't just believe me... it's all here in this precious moments devotional and Teen study bible with Tattoo art on it - see we used the tattoo art so the youth would relate---lol :-)"
Now, I have to apologize...most of us aren't that bad. But based on the reaction from society... we are irrelevant. So what we must be communicating is speaking something very different than our intention. I believe the solution to this is to realize the power and mystery of the Lord in all. We cannot be satisfied with "Precious Moments" Christianity.
Because what the world needs is a God who they know has the power to transform their lives. And they KNOW that the God of Testa-mints.... is not that God.
Why does the average person Christian or Non still care about what the pope says and does? Why have the traditions of Judaism carried through and are practiced by people from all walks... Gay, straight, liberal, democrat, etc.? BECAUSE... they have not fallen into irrelevance by way of kitsch faith. The God of Abraham is still in the synagogues of today, the God of righteous judgement and power is still floating through the Catholic Cathedrals.
The product that comes from the Catholics and Jews come from a history and reverence for the Lord... they would never think of creatibng Testa-mints BECAUSE our mints are not good enough for the God of all Creation. - Frankinscense wafting through the pews is, Unleavened bread at communion is, Manischewitz at celebrations is, The Torah being written in scroll form and kept locked in the Holy of Holies is. Because it always has been and it treats the Lord with the utmost respect. These faiths are still relevant in our culture but we are struggling to be.
Evangelicals... not just all Christians, EVANGELICALS have bad press. I believe a main reason for this is because our creative products do not represent a God who can do anything but bring 50-60 somethings to a happy pot luck dinner. And any non-believer who has real [problems and is desperately searching for a God who can change their lives come up bankrupt in the halls of evangelicalism.
The key is to respect who God really is in all that we produce... produce with excellence, for the audience of non-believers, for the God of the new AND Old Testament, with truth, crushingly hard questions, pain, healing, transformation, transportation, and redemption.
Show the public that our God is a God who can change everything! I have a hunch that if we take this seriously - if we produce films, plays, food products, whatever, that speaks to the mysterious God who hovered over the waters and spoke creation into being - we will find many broken, lost, and burdened people knocking on our doors for help. Looking for the God who is, has always been, and will always be.
May God for ever be the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory Forever