Jesus is Big Business

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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For we are not peddlers of God's word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence. 2 Corinthians 2:17

Jesus is big business.

Praise and worship songs show up at the top of music sales lists. Books about being left behind or purpose driven sell by the hundreds of thousands. I typed “Jesus for Sale” in my internet browser awhile back and the first thing up was something to buy—cute little Jesus-shaped coin banks with a coin-insert slot in Jesus’ head. Underneath Jesus are the words “Jesus Saves.” The second internet site showed a sign outside the Holy Ghost Deliverance Church; beneath it another sign said “For Sale by Owner.” Jesus is selling one of his churches, I guess. The third internet listing was the best of all, a “Bobble Head Jesus” available on eBay. Prop him on the back of your car so that every driver behind you can see a nodding Jesus. Place it right next to your bobble head college mascot! A mobile altar! See a “Honk If You Love Jesus” bumper sticker, and while you honk, Jesus bobs his head in approval.

American consumers want their Jesus on their own consumer terms. He should forgive much but expect little from us. He gives his life up for us, of course, but we limit our time with him. Churches are smorgasbords that meet every need but require no commitment. Twentieth century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it “cheap grace”: grace given freely to a greedy, narcissistic people who accept it from God as a sort of divine entitlement.

The United States has long been one of the world’s most religious nations. What’s new is the environment of our religious practice. In a flourishing consumer culture, behold, we see a bewildering array of choices in the shopping mall of faith. In fact, a book by that title seeks to understand our consumer religion phenomenon: Shopping for Faith: American Religion in the New Millennium by Richard P. Cimino and Don Lattin.

In the end, it’s all about us: religion to satisfy us, to help us, to make us feel good, to take care of us, to meet our every need.

Once there were three military recruiters—Army, Navy, and Marines—who went to a high school to speak to the senior class. Combined, they had 15 minutes to give their pitches. The Navy guy took seven minutes and the Army guy took seven minutes, which left only one minute for the Marine recruiter. The Marine recruiter said: “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could ever cut it in the Marine Corp, but I want to see those two or three immediately in the dining hall when we are dismissed.” After the meeting the Marine recruiter was mobbed. Why do you think? In essence he said, “This is meaningful and tough; it’s not easy, but it’s important and critical.” It’s the same with our faith. It’s costly. Faith is a commitment, a challenge, an enterprise that means you and your needs sometimes take a back seat to something more important.

Something considerably more important than shopping.