Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Christ, the centre or a fashion accessory?

The amounts of money that go into advertising prove one thing at least; the manufacturers believe it. We may laugh or groan at the adverts but commercial experts don’t throw their money away; they know that folk are affected by what they see and hear. One, not so subtle, aspect of advertising is the attempt to create a ‘must have’ product. Apple have just about achieved this with their iPod; that trailing white cable is the way to go. If you want to be part one of the in-crowd you just can’t afford to have another kind of mp3 player.

Jesus once made a very strong statement about the things we acquire. He said, "Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. Life is not measured by how much one owns." (Luke 12) That strikes against some fundamentals of our modern culture. Our culture says that identity is made up of key brands and that to be without those brands defines the kind of person I am. Christ says it doesn’t.

Just how do we measure a life? Income, career, potential, job satisfaction? “Get a life.” they say, but they seldom define ‘life’. I knew a businessman who had a cute message on his answering machine. It simply said “Who are you and what do you want?”, then it paused a while and added “…some people spend their whole lifetime answering these two questions.” Have you ever tried to answer the question ‘who are you?’ “I’m a student.” Fine, but is that who you are? “I’m the daughter of a doctor, a coal miner, a tv star…” Fine, but is that who you are? Mind you, this isn’t a new problem. About 3000 years ago a teenager lay on his back looking up at the stars and asked, “what is man, that You think of him, the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8)

Some folks, when they feel their ‘life’ is inadequate try to improve it with all kinds of additions; friends, cars, clothes, gadgets. There is a devastating series of lines in an old Graham Kendrick song telling the story of a man whose life has just settled down into a typical modern rut. Stuck in front of the TV he is described as…
He has his armchair fantasies, adventures, realities,

Courtesy of the TV companies,

Though he no longer seems to know which of his lives is real.

There must be happier lives,

because he’s often seen them advertised.

They come free with the things you buy.

At least, that is the lie he likes to believe.

…and all this long before and facebook!

Some folk even try the solution of ‘adding religion’ to make life worthwhile. Some even try to ‘add’ Christ to the deadly mix of fashion accessories, but Christ is not ‘add on’ and any ‘christ’ which can be ‘added on’ is not the real Christ. In one of Paul’s wonderful descriptions of the Son of God he simply describes him as ‘the beginning’. (Colossians 1:18) A beginning can never be an ‘add on’, a beginning has to be the first thing.

Christ once described the way that people responded to the things he said to them. Some, he said, just made ‘truth’ an ‘add on’. They just added a little truth to what they already had. “When the storm came,” said Jesus, “it was all wiped out.” But there was another kind of listener and doer, someone who dug down to the bedrock and with that as the foundation built their house. “When the storm came.” said Jesus, “that house stood the test.”

Here’s our question then, Is Christ the beginning, the foundation of our life, the bedrock? Or is he little more than a religious fashion accessory? I remember an old man teaching me how to pack a case. You put the big thing in first, he said, and the other things will usually fit around it. If you put all the other things in first, there’s seldom room for the big thing. Don’t try to fit Christ into your busy life, get those priorities sorted.

(this was originally written for a youth page a couple of years ago)

1 comment:

Fred said...

What came to my mind though is that jesus introduced a whole different kind of fashion into this world when he lived among us. Jesus is the going fashion in heaven. If you want to be in the in-crowd you ve got to look like him!

This is what Jesus said himself in Matthew 22:11 " And when the king came in to see nthe guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, friend, how camest though in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the King to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."