Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Monday, November 08, 2004

An Ugly Messiah

I have one more chapter left in Donald Miller's new book Searching for God Know What. I wanted to share a couple of quotes from the chapter of Religion: A Public Relations Campaign for God.

"Rather than Scripture serving as the text that explains God, it becomes a puzzle by which we test our knowledge against our friends', and the views by which we distinguish superiors from inferiors. It is as though we believe when we die, Alex Trebeck will be standing at the gates of heaven to lead us in a mad round of religious Jeopardy: 'I'll take Calvinism for a seat next to Christ, Alex.'"

In another section of this chapter, he wonders if our most passionate missionary endeavors are more concerned with redeeming our identity as Christians within our society than with presenting Jesus to a world looking for a God. He performs an experiment where he asks his friend to find an ugly musician on the cover of a CD at their local record store. Sure enough, his friend comes across one right off the bat. (The pop world is run by image but back when you had bands like The Ramones, Twisted Sister, and Smashing Pumpkins, you could still be ugly and make millions) Then Donald and his pal travel to a Christian bookstore and perform the exact experiment. The result: after 20 minutes of searching, not one artist was found that slightly passed for ugly. Miller begins to ask himself, "Are Christians more obsessed with whether or not they appear cool to the world? If this is so, then the matra seems to scream "Trust in Jesus! He will redeem you to the world." Ouch! How many times have I tried to be cool with my image and seek my identity in the eyes of the popular crowd? Too many. Isn't that called vanity, and have you ever heard a sermon on this? Wasn't Jesus homeless and had dirty feet? Didn't Isaiah say something about his appearance wasn't something that helped his following?

"If religion helps in our relationship with God, and it does, that's great, but if it is how we check stuff off a to-do list, or if it is the identity we defend in our society, or if our idea of evangelism is redeeming the image of Christianity, and not displaying the economy of the kingdom on earth, then it is worthless. I don't have any reservations about saying that."