Fourteen years ago, our assistant pastor dropped by for a visit one evening, and as we sipped coffee, he made a comment about objects in homes that identify the occupants as Christians. He scanned the living room of our small town house for an example and couldn't find anything like that. Not a cross, a placard, cross stitched verse or knick-knack. Maybe a few mugs, given to us as gifts, had verses on them. If there was any object, it would've been our bibles and a shelf full of books. It never occured to me back then that we might need to own crosses or statues or anything like that to make our home seem "spiritual". We had one picture, given to us as a wedding gift, but you wouldn't know what it was about just by looking at it--it sort of draws you in and holds your interest instead of making you glance away in embarrassment.
Sugar-coated Gospel, anyone?
But everytime I step into a Christian bookstore, the first thing I usually see aren't bibles or books but tons of Christian "paraphanalia". Candles, magnets, games, pens, jewelry, t-shirts, dolls, bumperstickers, bible covers, statues of angels, statues of Jesus, "gift sets" and coffee mugs of various artistic appeal from "kitsch" to something trying to resemble "class", all with "spiritual" themes. There are more of this stuff than acutual books--and most of the books are of questionable spiritual value. Who buys this junk? And why? And don't get me started on the kids' section. Sure, Veggietales are cute and instructive, but I am sick of how Bob and Larry are merchandised to death. Enough already! Someone needs to take a lesson from Bill Watterson, creator of the "Calvin and Hobbes" comic. Less is more.
A more relevant message: "God wants you to stop gambling!"
One of my relatives asked me if I collected crosses. We were in an offbeat funky interior decorating store that specialized in high end Spanish inspired design--not a Christian bookstore. There was a box of rustic silver crosses, all uniquely and beautifully hand made. I didn't explain to her how I really felt about turning an instrument of death into an ornament, whether it was around my neck or on my wall. It seemed to water down the meaning to me. If someone had to check my jewelry or my decor or my car's bumper for evidence of my walk with Christ, instead of my character or my life, then that's pretty pathetic. It's nice to have a few things that have special meaning (I really like our mugs and a few small ornaments my sister gave me) but when some people go overboard, I always wonder what they are trying to prove.
Noah's Ark gummy candy
And here's the irony: Jesus taught that life does not consist of "stuff" but God--even if the stuff has a verse engraved on it. And would that message be obvious if He stepped into any Christian store? Into our homes? How about our lives? "For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also."
Worship as a catch phrase