Contend Earnestly: WWJD Bracelets Are Stupid

Monday, July 13, 2009

WWJD Bracelets Are Stupid


I really wish that we would grow up as Christians. I wish we would see that Madonna has actually correctly put forth Christianity:

Christianity is becoming more of a currency than a belief

This is actually on point and pretty disturbing. When Michael Jackson died, not sure if you heard that he, in fact, died, vendors were outside his funeral to take advantage of the death by selling t-shirts with R.I.P. on the front. I started to scoff and laugh, and then realized that this isn't far from what Christians have done with our hero that died. Before Jesus died, the cross was seen as an obscene object and not for affection or to be worn proudly around the neck with 14 caret gold and diamonds laced within it. But, leave it to Christians to start to market the cross like MJ fans did the programs from his funeral on ebay the day after. Whatever we need to do to make a buck.

I am not sure if I am more disturbed by the companies that hock this crap or for the stupid consumer for buying and chalking it up as using it as a witness for the cross of Christ. I still don't get how having a blanket in your house with a lighthouse on it stating, "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" is a witnessing tool. It might warm your guests feet, but I doubt it will make them realize their need for Christ. Plus, the lighthouse is just distracting.

This is contemporary Christendom though. We tell ourselves that if we buy this crap and wear it or put it around our home that people are going to read our mugs and see our t-shirts and want to sell everything that they have to follow Christ, for a small donation. What is even crazier is that people who aren't Christians see right through this, and aren't attracted to Christ because of it. We are cheapening Christ by buying all this crap and really telling people that Jesus is no different than the local show hocking crap at their concerts. Really, what is the difference between us wearing some odd verse on our t-shirt with Christ dying on the cross and someone wearing a Cold Play t-shirt with a lyric and tour dates on back? Jesus has become nothing more than a pop icon instead of the Jesus that died a brutal death on the cross and rose from the dead to save souls. I think that all this marketing has dumbed Christianity down so much that it a large part of why people have issues with his bloody death and why people don't like to read parts of the Bible that calls them whores with their legs spread open waiting for anyone who passes by. (Ezekiel 16). Instead, we would like Jesus' name to look like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrapper on a t-shirt.

Every time I see someone wearing a WWJD bracelet, I want to simply tell them, "He wouldn't be wearing your bright pink bracelet, that's for sure."

At some point we have to realize that no matter what we do, just wearing the crap around our neck doesn't make us a Christ follower. That would be like the local transvestite wearing chick clothes and saying he is a lady. Wear the clothes all you want man, but you are still a dude. At the end of the day, you still have to shave your face and put on a cup when you play softball.

Christianity has to be a heart change, not a change of clothes. The way we put it forth today though is that if you want to be a Christian, then you have to listen to lame music, wear lame t-shirts (like "Lord's Gym: Bench Press This!") and put the little Jesus fish on your car for all to see that not only you have changed for Christ, but your car has been redeemed as well.

At some point, we have to see how dumb we look as we try and sell people our crappy trinkets for Jesus. Instead, what we need to do is lived a changed life, not a changed wardrobe. We need to live for Jesus, we need to speak Jesus. I get like this every time I walk into a Christian bookstore and see all the crap they try and sell poor shmucks for a little righteousness for their wall. Today, instead of buying anything, I walked next door (to the wine and beer shop) and bought a beer glass and then went home and drank a beer for the glory of God and thanked him for his many true blessings in life as I sat and saw his creation in the form of a great ocean staring at me from my balcony.

I really hope that at some point we see that the war is not happening in what we wear or hang on our wall, but is in the heart of man. We need to speak and live Jesus with others so that they see the greatness of him and realize that he is not some pop culture icon that hopes that someone will buy a ticket to the show.

He's not a show. He's the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

And

He thinks your bracelet is dumb and so do I.


20 comments:

josh said...

I do like the Calvin Is My Homie t-shirts

Joe said...

I have always thought that people bought Christian stuff to wear in public so that that thing would be counted as "evangelism".

I think everybody knows that they should proclaim the gospel of God. But too many Christians want to live in the cozy neighborhoods, just far away enough to where you can wave hi to your neighbor but don't really have to engage.

"But oh snap, I am wearing this Jesus t-shirt so if an unbeliever wants to know more, they can come ask me."

That like something I always heard as an young adult: "If you ask me, I will be truthful but I am certainly not going to volunteer information."

But that is not the way Jesus wanted us to live life.

John 17:15-16 (ESV) I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

We are not of the world but we are certainly in it for a season. Jesus Christ did whatever was necessary to be the most effective missionary to a foreign land aka the world. So he asks the same thing of us:

John 17:17-18 (ESV) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

The truth of the word of God will not be broadcast through lame t-shirts and "cool" sayings. It shall be proclaim through spoken word and deed. There is a God who loves the world and that world needs to know it.

Jacob said...

On the whole, I see your point Seth and I'm glad you feel you can drink a beer for the glory of God. However, I think your "rant" is too black and white. Your underlying assumption is that all of this stuff is strictly for profit and/or outward appearances. That's not always true. I don't have a WWJD braclet, but I listen to a mix of christian and secular music because I enjoy it. I buy Veggie Tales movies and toys for my kids because it has a good message and he enjoys it. My wife enjoys Beth Moore bible studies cuz they challenge her. My mom likes Thomas Kinkade paintings because they look good on the wall with her decor. I don't feel like I am branding myself with this Christian currency as it seems you are suggesting. There's a balance. But to do totally agree with uyour challenge. If we think sitting on our butts dressed as a billboard for Jesus it's enough, it's not.

Seth McBee said...

Jacob.

That's cool...enjoy that stuff...know that this post is for the extreme consumerism that blows.

I will also say that Kinkade and Veggie Tales have some major flaws in their views of Christianity. If you like them, that's cool, and that's a whole different post.

And bro...if you don't think most, if not all, the trinkets are not sold for strictly profit...not sure what to tell you...that's up to you.

Thanks for the comment though...just don't watch Veggie Tales while a Kinkade painting is on your wall, you might have a seizure. ;)

Jacob said...

I have no doubt in their flaws. I have seen them. It is my job as head of the household to teach the truths of scripture (which even I'm not prefect at). I do not depend on movies or paintings for that.

As for the "profit" point, do you believe that all business if for profit? I am not naive and know what you're getting at, but I also believe that some businesses exist to serve and only see profit as the blood that keeps the life system working. I won't speculate which products came with a service perspective and which came strictly for profit, but I will say I'm in no way sticking my head in the sand.

Thanks for the post bud!

Bo Pritchard said...

Right on post. And excellent use of the word 'crap'. 7 x's at my count.

TL said...

seth: prophetic kudos. turn over the money-changers tables my man. i could really go for a testa-mint right now. but you are not a blowhard my bro. in his recent book, *Christless Christianity*, (which is incredible) Michael Horton, says that Xtianity has NEVER posed the damn question WWJD?, but rather, What has Jesus DONE? That is my righteousness, my performance, my all. Any shyster who says differently is hawking Jesus, but it aint the biblical Jesus. It's closer to Jesus, the teetotaler, virgin, Hispanic pool-boy.

jacob: bro, i promise i don't want to start a flame war-- that is not my intent. but let me give you some food for thought. check out the book "Painter of Lite," and see if you still love the magical b.s. sentimentalism of Sir Kincaide. Also, I would love to know your opinion about Veggie Tales being odd, weird not-even-close paraphrases of biblical material. A boot? Was that what the biblical story was all about? All I know is that my 3 1/2 yr old will hear that David loved another woman that was not his wife AND he KILLED, (yes, I'll say "killed") her real husband. Our watering down truth only produces a future church that has an unhealthy palette for effeminate, glowing half-truths. (even Kurt Vonnegut knows that: Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so Bokonon
made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies. -- K.V. from the Cat's Cradle)And what are the final points to Veggie Tales? Moralism. Be brave, kiddos! Be kind. Be honest. But where is the Gospel my man, Jacob? Show me the Gospel! My wife tells me I need to lighten up, so, yes, some VT DVDs still linger in our household...But I have stuffed them to the back of the DVD closet...next to all the other Lifeway Xtian Crap that well-meaning grandparents purchase, thinking that they are giving the gift of moral fiber-- much akin to Metamucil for the believer.

barrydean said...

One of the things that even further cheapens their so called "witness" is the person who wears the trinkets but their behavior matches a Heathen. Having a good theology basis, I know we still suck as believers, and we always will in some sense until Christ returns. But I will never forget being on my way to a meeting at our former church and noticing a Suburban weaving and speeding around corners in the neighborhood near the church. I noticed the vehicle had a fish on the back door. When I arrived, I also noticed who exited from the Suburban. It was an associate paster. Ooops!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely, however I must take issue with "I am not sure if I am more disturbed by the companies that hock this crap or for the stupid consumer for buying and chalking it up as using it as a witness for the cross of Christ." Matthew 5:22 says "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Does this verse not apply to your comment?

Seth McBee said...

Anon.
Thanks for the comment and the question.

First, I am not going to completely go into the depths that calling someone a fool in the Greek meant, that is a valid argument to bring up here in my defense, but I want to bring up something else.

If someone believes that they are witnessing by merely buying this crap, that is foolish and stupid.

You have to remember that Christ called people fools when they were being foolish. The verse at hand is definitely speaking of unrighteous anger and unrighteous "name calling". It is not referring to all anger and all times that it is appropriate for calling someone stupid.

In my opinion, when someone buys crap or hocks it as a witness for your faith, it is stupid. We are the witness, not things. We are the mouthpieces of the treasures of Christ, not a bumper sticker.

So, righteous anger is permissible...it is your job to discern whether or not my anger is righteous or petty.

And mine as well.

Thanks for the comment and question...hope you keep coming by.

Anonymous said...

Well put and I think you chose the better of the two arguments. A concise rebuttal that is easy to verify will trump quibbling over translations any day in my book. I agree that these products are crap, however I believe the anger should be directed solely toward the manufacturers of the goods. The people who buy these things are not committing any evil by trying to witness in this way. They are merely guilty of being gullible. I personally think that a believer should live a life that provokes those around us to ask why we live this way, and where our joy comes from. We should avoid the "in your face" prayer/public spectacles a la the pharisees, as well as the "decorate your car/children/self with embarrassingly cheesy trinkets/shirts" school of Christianity. It's lame. Thank you for the response!

Anonymous said...

P.S.
Jesus only drove out the merchants. Not the customers.

Anonymous said...

P.S.
Jesus only drove out the merchants. Not the customers.

Seth McBee said...

1. Being gullible is stupid and foolish

2. The merchants were being dishonest and stealing, not the customers

3. Paul yelled at the stupid sheep:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
Galatians 3:1

Anonymous said...

In response to 1)
gull·ible
Variant(s):also gull·able \ˈgə-lə-bəl\
Function:adjective
Date:1818
: easily duped or cheated

In response to 2) The merchants are making money selling crap. The customers are merely purchasing it with good intentions. Should we be angry with them?

In response to 3) Is this passage chosen because Paul used the word foolish? In this passage the Galations were fooled by false apostles. Relevent to the current discussion?

Anyways, it was not my intent to argue. I love your blog and I feel that you are doing a great service by letting people know that normal people are Christians too, and it's okay not to be part of the dorky stereotype. You can have a beer and talk about the Bible, listen to normal music, and abstain from ridiculous trinkets and still know your stuff and be a compelling witness. Congratulations, and well done!

Jacob said...

TL - It's simple. I don't rely on any of that stuff to teach about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That's my calling from God.

jbishop said...

I think it's OK to wear Christian-themed T-shirts. Just walk thru your local mall or campus student union and count how many "anti-social" messages you see on shirts, compared to Christian or "pro-social" themes. Significantly more of the former than the latter.

In part, then, it's about Christians being vanguards for the faith in a fallen world. And in today's culture, we often communicate nonverbally so much more than interpersonally.

So I'm cool with doctrinally sound symbolic representations of the faith -- Jesus Fish, quippy tees, and such.

TL said...

@jbishop.
yeah, cuz we should totally use the world's techniques. whoohoo.

jbishop said...

@TL: Cynicism -- another worldly technique. Point taken.

TL said...

@jbishop:
There is quite a bit of difference between sarcasm and cynicism.
Most of the prophets use sarcasm. You might want to reread the whole Elijah and the prophets of Baal account.
Point. Counterpoint. Game. Set Match.

Now, was that humor or sarcasm?

I apologize for nothing, except for the enormity of sin which is my every breath.

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