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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Would Jesus sell on Ebay?

For most of my life I have viewed the goodness of God as a treasure and as a pearl to be pursued with all of my energies. That I have been sidetracked, knocked off course, or otherwise distracted from this pursuit has been part of the battle that I have called "faith."

To commune and fellowship with the awesome and indescribable God has been what I consider to be the "pearl of great price" in my life:

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls."
Matthew 13:44-45

I love these two little analogies by Jesus. They capture the heart of God-seeking and the essence of the Gospel: A relentless pursuit that completely consumes us. It is truly dangerous, and I say that in all seriousness: The pursuit of God and dedication to Christ has completely destroyed people of faith. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: God is good, but not tame.

In recent years I have wondered about the "one-size-fits-all" models of sharing the faith. Whether this takes the form of "The Four Spiritual Laws" or "The Romans Road" or even if this takes the form of an intellectual apologetic I have often questioned the wisdom of starting with a pre-packaged plan for sharing the Christian faith.

For example, in Matthew 7:6 there is the suggestion not to give to dogs what is sacred:

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

What does this mean?

Is it possible that giving people pre-packaged salvation plans we are throwing our pearls to the pigs? If someone ain't interested in the faith is it ok to say, "Cool. I hope that works out for ya'?"
As an example I think about the stuff that I value. I don't have a great deal of material possessions with very much value, but I do have an autographed Reggie Miller card that I value very highly. I have it on a plaque on my wall. Would I let just anyone put their hands on it? Would I loan it out or treat it cheaply? Absolutely not. Because I value it so highly I only let people have a look at it who can appreciate its worth. We know how much we value something by how we treat it.

Are there some with whom I would not want to share the faith because they are only looking to get something? A god-fix or a little spirituality? Do we market and advertise our Christianity as the best religion out there in hopes of attracting those who are looking for a good religion? Is this sometimes what we are doing under the guise of "meeting needs"?

In our psycho-spiritual age it is fashionable to have some god in our lives and to connect with the "Other." Do we give our generation what they want?

Is Jesus the answer to everyone's neurosis or the solution to all of our psychological woes?
Am I a heretic if I say that Christ is a pearl of great price that might very well cost a person more than they get in return? It certainly feels wrong to even write those words...let alone italicize them...let alone post them on the internet....

If I were to put Christ up on Ebay I think I would sell a heavy and bloody cross with a price tag that says "Everything" and see if people clamor to get their bids in.


ktismatics said...

I wrote a comment here but it disappeared as soon as I submitted it. Let's see what happens this time...

ktismatics said...

That time it worked. I'm not sure I can recreate what I was thinking before. The idea was that it's impossible to know where people have come from, or even where they are right now, let alone where they're headed. Who knows what words register, what experiences prove decisive? Jesus took a strange and circuitous path through life; only in retrospect does it look like destiny.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I'm not sure I can recreate what I was thinking before. The idea was that it's impossible to know where people have come from, or even where they are right now, let alone where they're headed.

So, your words vanished in the void of the world wide web, eh??? I wonder if they are still out there somewhere - hanging in space somewhere???

Good point about not knowing where people are going or heading. Over-generalizing can be dangerous. In fact, I wonder if some my cynicism in the above post suffers the same fate...

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