Donald Miller has quite a way with words. These, in particular, caught my attention this morning as I was finishing his latest page-turner, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life.
Growing up in church, we were taught that Jesus was the answer to all our problems…. But the idea that Jesus will make everything better is a lie. It’s basically biblical theology translated into the language of infomercials. The truth is, the apostles never really promise Jesus is going to make everything better here on earth. Can you imagine an infomercial with Paul, testifying to the amazing product of Jesus, saying that he once had power and authority, and since he tried Jesus he’s been moved from prison to prison, beaten, and routinely bitten by snakes? I don’t think many people would be buying that product. Peter couldn’t do any better. He was crucified upside down, by some reports. Stephen was stoned outside the city gates. John, supposedly, was boiled in oil. It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria. (203-204)
It’s one thing to recognize the truthfulness of these words. It’s quite another to allow them to critique our own expressions of faith and practice of ministry.
- How do we honor this truth when ease and comfort are among society’s ultimate values?
- How do we honor the true Christ when the primary hope of many Christians for future generations is that they be excited about church or Jesus, thus leading to the praise and exaltation of Infomercial Jesus?
- How do we honor the Servant who prays “Not my will but yours” in a made-to-order world in which we’ve made Jesus into a product pitch-person selling a customizable, made-to-order version of himself?
Surely our attentiveness to the stories of Jesus about the good Samaritan, a selfish older brother, a persistent and dedicated gardener, and others has helped us see that one of these things just doesn’t belong here: ThighMaster, Salad Shooter, Awesome Auger, ShamWow!, Jesus.
May the Holy Spirit root out any desire we have for Infomercial Jesus and draw us nearer to the One who willingly lays down his life for others!