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Sunday, August 13, 2006


Who Do You Think You Are?

The LA Times recently ripped the International Christian Retailers Show (ICRS) in Denver in their article "Christian Retailers Put Their Print on Products." This is the slightly delayed part four of a series discussing the event, its history, and its implications.

First, I wrote about the history of the CBA. Second, I wrote about Jesus turning over the money tables in Jerusalem. Third, I wrote about God's 21st century temple (our lives) and made a hard claim: if Jesus junk is sacrilegious, then all junk is sacrilegious.

Recently, I have been doing some research for Labor Day Sunday materials. (You can also read about it at Faith In The Workplace.) If you take a look at these sites, you'll see that my job puts me right at one of the tables in the temple.

Essentially, these booklets and sermons are a sales pitch to churches. Does somebody need to come turn over my table? What about Claudia Mair Burney's? She sells fiction marketed specifically to Christian readers. What about Jim Thomason's? He works for a publisher that has made millions of dollars by selling Bibles. (Even worse, consider his title "Vice President of Human Resources." It practically reduces company employees to chattel.) What about Don Pape's table with Alive Communications (the guy on the far right)? As part of his job, Don pushes publishers to offer higher advances on royalties to authors (like Mair). Are these people corrupting the Kingdom with their freemarket concepts and business plans?

Of course, not! I've read Mair's book. It's uplifting, challenging, and exciting. I've met Don Pape. I wish he were my agent. (In fact, I wish I had an agent.) I haven't met Thomason, but I thought I'd pick on him anyway. I don't really think Human Resources people are evil.

They can be, of course. Anyone in any walk of life can be evil. Human resources people can treat their employees more like resources than humans. It's a kind of betrayal, really.

Writers can betray their audience. Publishers can betray their readers. Agents can betray publishers or writers or both. Editors like me could betray the church with a shoddy product or a slippery message or even just an impure motive to use God's message for profiteering.

If we betray others, Jesus will turn over our tables. It's just a matter of time.

We Christians can define ourselves however we want--by our jobs, our relationships, even our stuff: "Hi, I'm an editor" or "Hi, I'm CJ's daddy" or "Hi, I'm a homeowner." But God defines us differently.

We are children of God (see 1 John 3:1-3).
We are priests (see 1 Peter 2:4-13).
And the world is our temple.

So the question is not whether "Jesus Junk" belongs in the Christian community. The question is whether your spiritual sacrifices are glorifying God in your daily life. If "Jesus Junk" offends you, don't buy it. Pretty simple.

I mean, really, who do you think you are? What do you think you are here for?

Glorify God with every purchase you make in a store.
Glorify God with every decision you make at work.
Glorify God with every word you speak at home.
Glorify God in everything that you do.
Declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into the light.

And leave the table turning to Jesus.

HillCountryWriter Category: Publishing
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