Be in the world but not of it – or set up your own

Christians like quoting the “be in the world not of it” mantra. However, I think that the tendency is to shun “being of the world” (whatever that really means) to such an extent that a parallel world is established that looks disarmingly like the real one but with a glossy Christian smile all over it. Thus we have Christian tv shows, Christian clothing, rapture-ready mugs, Christian clubs, Christian music and so on. And now we have “Christian Idol”. Surely that is an oxymoron? TBN (Christian US Broadcasting Network) will be hosting Christian reality show called “Gifted“.

National auditions for the Gifted talent competition were held over a year long period in churches situated in major markets throughout the United States”.

What will they be performing? Apparently a recording of the finalists singing “Amazing Love (You Are My King)” (must confess I don’t know that one) will get radio airplay. Now I have no issue with people entering talent quests etc (although you would not find me anywhere near such a thing, even if had talent), but something grates for me about Christians competing with each other singing worship songs. It somehow seems to miss the essence of worship to me, a God focused action, not “how good am I”. Join American/Australian/anywhere in the world Idol if you wish to showcase your talent. We don’t need it wrapped up in Christian trimmings.

How will we ever share the story of Jesus with others if we continue to construct and live in a Christian parallel universe?


11 thoughts on “Be in the world but not of it – or set up your own

  1. Ugh! Christian World Inc. How scary!

    Do you think these attempts to recreate their own little trademark Western society occur because they are disconnected from reality already by living within a money-centred, media-informed culture? Where does this thinking come from?

  2. Good point Scott. There is something to be said for integrity even if it is perhaps not the ideal picture of incarnation. Anna, I think that a big part of the problem is Scott’s fave reason for things – the prevalence of dualism. Amongst many Christians there is a strong sense of US and THEM – Christians and everyone else. It does not need much more of a stretch to be wary of “them” and determined to be set apart. However, we are as much a part of our culture as “they” are, so to feel better about it we set up the Christian western society, embedded in and mirroring the society in which it exists. In the end the picture is “in the world, not of it, but looking a lot like it”. Somehow we feel better with emulating the world if we can say “but it is a Christian (club, show, quest, group etc).

  3. I never understood what Christian tv shows, Christian clothing, rapture-ready mugs, Christian clubs, Christian music were anyways. I just thought they were one of the weird marketing campaigns from the US… [Good to see an update!]

  4. Yeah, they’re thinking of making Hindu music and clubs now over here. Plus we already have the Mugs and clothings. It’s like we’re being pushed into a vast cage where it appears everything is jolly. It’s like its a false sense of security….

  5. That’s interesting… we don’t have (at least I have not seen) mugs etc promoting slogans or other aspects of faiths other than Christianity here. There is something cheapening about capturing faith as a marketing strategy. Are you Hindu? If yes, what do you think of the mugs and clothing etc that you describe in your comment?

  6. Yes I am a Hindu. To me it seems more of a “selling you faith” thing rather than promoting it. We don’t need T-shirts or mugs to show support for our faith. Actually [I hope not to hurt anyone] I just believe that God is one for all. Not broken up by religion where each sees him in his own different way. It’s just faith in him that is what we need and not Mugs, pens, t-shirts….

  7. I’d have to agree with you, Christina. The parallel world which has been constructed is kinda yucky, especially knowing that it’s all a marketing ploy to “sell” Jesus. I’d rather have normal people than crazed marketers. 🙂

    Good thoughts, keep it up!

    Oh, and Ashish, I’m with you, my friend. I claim no special revelation of God, but I suspect that you’re right on the issue. 🙂

  8. I see nothing wrong with wearing clothing that expresses your Faith. It is a good conversation starter. I also see nothing wrong with Christian news, Hindu news, etc. The show Christian Idol, I can’t comment on that one as I know nothing about it. But if you are a religious person, there is nothing wrong with trying to live in a culture that represents your Faith.

  9. I think we have a good example of what it looks like to live out faith and engage in culture through Jesus. He was clearly part of his culture – he shared the same practices, dressed the same, ate the same food etc. Externally, I don’t think there was much to separate him from the “run-of-the-mill” Jew. But what he said and did set him apart, expressed the freshness and life that he brought to the Jewish faith. I would hope that this would be how I express my faith, rather than being initiated by branding. I don’t have a problem though with wearing clothing that expresses something important to you.

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