A growing number of people are disturbed by the values exhibited by the contemporary church. Worship has become entertainment, the church has become a shopping mall, and God has become a consumable product.
The above quote is from Skye Jethani on his new book, The Divine Commodity. In the last year or so, more and more Christians have been expressing their concerns about the rabid onslaught of consumer Christianity – the idea that if you come to God everything will be great and you will be blessed and prosper.
I have been in churches – as I’m sure you have too – where ‘worship’ is definitely entertainment. The band has started playing a song, I’m ready to sing, and next minute there are all these dancers on the stage swinging streamers around their heads and stepping around each other in beautifully choreographed harmony. I wasn’t sure whether I should sing or watch. It definitely wasn’t worship for me.
Books like The Divine Commodity however represent a sign of hope. I have already written a review of Mark Sayers’ The Trouble with Paris. Just in the last week I have also come across another book called Enough! by Will Samson. This book looks at the question, “What would it be like to be formed by communities consumed by God and God’s vision for the world?” Smatterings of N.T. Wright and his oft-quoted question, “What would the world look like if God was running the show?” This book seems a lot like The Trouble with Paris, in that it
include[s] cultural, sociological and theological analysis of the dilemmas of consumption and contrasts them with the writer’s vision of God’s call to abundant life in Christ. In the second part, Samson offers detailed, practical ideas on how believers can make lifestyle changes aimed at embracing wholeness in connecting belief and practice as the people of God.
Isn’t it refreshing that many Christians seem to have had enough of the heresy of health, wealth and happiness that a cultural Christianity has foisted upon us, from those of us in the rich west to the poor in Africa? In the latter case, lives have been ruined by the false hope of a Christianity that promises much materially but then fails to deliver, leaving the victim blaming him/herself for a lack of faith.
I wonder if this push to rid the church of such false teaching is a result, at least in part, of the global economic meltdown. Good can come out of anything, and maybe the good in this is that many Christians are waking up to the unreality of a Gospel that never promises the good life, but does promise life in all its fullness – a fullness that one can only have when fully sold out to Jesus. John Smith said years ago that if there is anything we can be obsessed about in life, it is Jesus. Plead with God to show you more of Jesus, to have your life reflect his, that you be sent as he was sent, to the poor, the vulnerable, the ostracised and the victim. This is the life that is true life, the abundant life in all its beautiful fullness.