Q: How do you know a fish is a Christian?
A: It has a car stuck to it!
I’ve spent all week in a very large room full of people trying to sell things to Christians or offer themselves and/or their organisation to support Christians. I started this post with the fish joke because one of the exhibitors was a car leasing company. I have no idea what makes them more Christian than other car leasing companies, I didn’t ask.
There seems to be a huge industry around the church. People selling stained glass, tables, chairs, Christian books, Christian CDs (don’t get me started on that little nieche market!), robes, pulpits, pupets, photocopiers, youth organisations, envelopes for your offerings… It goes on and on.
It’s good to be resourced. It’s good to read books and be challenged and to learn. It’s good to speak to people, share your thoughts and your ideas. It’s good to find out what other people are doing.
I wonder what Jesus would think of it all? I wonder if we are the money changers in the temple? The industry that has grown up around God? I include myself in that. I work for the church. I am a service industry (any pun intended!).
Is there a line? Where is it? And why?
John made a great point in his comment on the previous post about the need for critical thought, especially around what we understand church to be and to be for. How should it move forward? How much of that is driven by marketing companies telling us what the next must have book is, or who the next big Christian group are, or indeed what the next big version of church is?
How do we find out if God is in all of that? How do we decide on what direction to head?
The readings at worship on Sunday night were about God leading the Israelites out of exile in a round about road, but going ahead of them, guiding them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The second reading was a very different journey, the journey of two scared and confused disciples on the road to Emmaus, joined by Jesus but not recognising him until he broke bread with them.
I feel much more like the disciples on the road than the Israelites. I could be walking with Jesus, but how would I know? What are the signs I should look out for? What will he say that will open my eyes?
I guess my question is how do we answer John’s concern? How do we make sure that we are following a path because it is the path we should be following rather than a path that someone has signposted so they can make a quick buck along the way?
So many questions…