Let Him out
I read this recently from a Christian on a social networking site…
…a hamburger/hot dog place with Christian music playing in the background and your drink container has a scripture reference on it and the bag that contains the food, also…GREAT food and enjoyed eating to some of Matt Redmon’s songs!
…and it reminded me of a very old joke about a formerly popular pipe tobacco widely distributed in cans called Prince Albert. It went something like, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? …Well, let him out!” (Yes, I am that old.) Many a well meaning Christian has unwittingly put God in a box out of their own limited knowledge of who God is and what He’s done. I know I have. My perspective of God was limited by my own myopic, selfish considerations of what God would do or not, based upon what I thought He needed to do.
Don’t misunderstand. I think restaurants playing Christian music with scripture drink cups and food bags are just fine. It’s just that Christian music, Christian bags, scripture mints, etc., etc., is part of the merchandising that’s crept into Christianity. I’d enjoy great food anywhere, even if an atheist cooked it. As a matter of fact, there are occasions when I’m suspicious of Christian music playing in a restaurant or the Icthus symbol displayed on a service van. Just because businesses do these sorts of things doesn’t testify to their Christianity. Certainly there are those who put the reputation of Christianity to shame when they “wear the fish” while their conduct is anything but. We know Christians by their love, and love takes much higher precedence over business.
When Christian is used more as an adjective instead of a noun it’s an indication we’ve lost our way. Advertising and merchandising the gospel has become preferred to evangelism and witnessing, probably due to the negative connotation that those latter words have taken on in recent times. It’s easier and unobtrusive to put scripture references on soft drink cups than to risk a personal encounter with another person who might take offense to having “religion shoved down their throat”.
C.S. Lewis has a salient view regarding this sort of thing in his essay “Weight of Glory“. “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” If we’re fooling about giving regard to drink cups and food bags, we’re satisfied with too little. I would hope that we’re not content to play in the mud puddle slums when we’ve been bestowed upon and entrusted with a glorious truth. It’s time we cast aside the trivialities of this life and let Him live out of our lives.