I want to begin this post by saying that I am thankful for Christian bookstores. It is an unbelievable blessing to be able to purchase Bibles and good books with such ease and convienience. But then again, there is something that makes me a little nasueas when I walk into some of these places. Usually I am an online book buyer these days - but today, I needed two books of Christian biography. Usually I would guess that the bookstores would not carry much in the way of biography, theology, biblical studies, etc. But this person, Jim Elliot, is a big name so I took my chances at the local bookstore. Thankfully, they had the two books I needed - so again, I’m thankful for the Christian bookstore. But then…I was nauseated a bit. When I look at the stuff the Christians are reading today, it makes me want to bang my head into the wall. Such me centered stuff that says so little about God - his excellencies, his works, his beauty, his calling, the radical call to suffer and have hope in a great mission of making disciples, living in communities of depth and truth and compassion so that God is glorified in his church. Here are some of my observations:
- There was a Purpose Driven life book bound in leather, with gold pages, looking just like a Bible. Makes me wonder if some have actually made the switch
- There is so much junk out there in the name of Jesus. Did he say “Go forth and be consumers of Jesus Junk” - We are so American that I fear we all get drowned in all the stuff we buy - even in Jesus name.
- One of the top selling Bibles at this store was “The Message - Remix” - Praise God for Eugene Peterson and his labors, his works are a great gift to the church. Yet the Message is not even a translation of the Bible. It is a devotional paraphrase, not the word of God. I am thankful for such an uplifting paraphrase in our day - but nauseated that it is actually a best selling “Bible” - at least at this store it was.
- We seem to be addicted to Max Lucado (no offense to Max as his books have blessed many) while Jonathan Edwards or the works of Thomas Aquinas or Augustine or Bunyan or Spurgeon are scarecly found. I can’t say anymore about the light weight reading we do. We in American evangelicalism appear to be joined to easy, how to, self-improvement, just smile at Jesus, how much the universe is about me…literature. How can such a church suffer for great and precious promises and a mission amidst broken people?
- T-shirt section - Well let’s just say that I prefer not to even write about what I saw there.
So, I thank God for bookstores, the freedom we have and the ease of access of Christian Literature (even Jim Elliot biography)…but God help us that we would not be a consumeristic, trite, trivial, light weight, and silly people. Lost in such a morass is silence, solitude, meditation, prayer, study, thought, growth in virtues such as patience, longsuffering, self-control - and when these go - so goes our transformation, the reorientation of our desires, the joys unspeakable, and the hope of eternity. And the mission labors and sputters and chokes amidst our trivialities. …