Theology for the Long Haul

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Travel Plaza Tuesdays: I Don't Want to Sell my Soul for a Prius"

Lately I’ve had the urge to get some Christian bumper stickers. One that says, “1 Son + 3 nails = 4 given” and “In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned”. The later will serve double duty, because many Christians not only ridicule bumper stickers about faith, they also laugh at people who read the Left Behind Series and believe in the rapture. If you haven’t guessed, my bumper-sticker-buying urges are a little reactionary.

At a small group meeting a friend of ours made the remark, “I don’t have to drink, smoke cigars, and join the Acts 29 Network to be cool.” I loved both his ability to poke fun at himself, (our church is in the Acts 29 Network) and the heart behind his comment. It acknowledged the present pull to be culturally defined, and his refusal to succumb to it. That’s the heart of my bumper sticker-buying urges.

There is an overwhelming pressure among Christians to be as instep as possible. We recycle and hit up the farmer’s market. You won’t find any Christian music on our iPods. It’s like the ultimate goal is to convince people around us we are appropriately hip, so we can later slide in we are also Christians. If we can win them over to us, maybe we can convince them Jesus is alright too.

The danger is a temptation to build identity around the world, rather than the Lord Himself. I’ve seen some people head in this direction and noticed that it wasn’t long before they no longer felt the need to tack “Christ-follower” at the end of “organic gardener, sushi-lover, and city-dweller”. That’s when the phrase, “I don’t want to sell my soul for a Prius” began to knock around in my head.

In Mark 10, we see the story of a rich young ruler who comes to Jesus, asking how to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus first instructs him to follow the teachings of the commandments. When the man responds he already does, Jesus says to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (vs. 21). It says the man left sad, “for he had great possessions” (vs. 22).

I’m nothing close to wealthy, but Jesus gives me a similar challenge. He asks if I need the acceptance of the unbelieving world. He asks if I would walk away sad before I would lay down my ability to function well in the culture. He asks if the reason I spend so much time trying to identify with the people around me is because it’s the better way to witness, or if it’s actually because I cannot say along with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).

In the next Travel Plaza Tuesday I’m going to explore a couple ways Christians (myself included) get off base in an attempt to be culturally astute. I’ve come to the conclusion it will bear more fruit to rid myself of these things than buying a bunch of bumper stickers will.

*Note: Already someone has said, "But Corrie, you recycle. You like sushi". It's true. I even have an iPod (but it's loaded with Adventures in Odyssey episodes). I didn't make it clear enough in the post- the problem is not culture, the problem is finding identity in the culture. Next weeks blog will bring more clarity.

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