WORDS FROM W.W. November 16, 2010
In my lifetime I’ve had a few of the pocket New Testaments that the Gideon’s distribute. They were convenient. You could slide one of them into one of your Wrangler Jean’s back pockets and run lickety split out the front door. My brother-in-law is a Gideon, and I’m sure he could probably tell me how many of those pocket Bibles have been given out over the years.
Convenient. There are some pretty smart people in the Gideon’s organization that figured out a long time ago that handing out Bibles the size of your living room coffee table probably wouldn’t be very effective.
With the Gideons it makes sense. After all, the goal is to put scripture into people’s hands.
There’s a trend in the church, however, to “pocket” everything. That is, making everything convenient to the point that God is about serving our every whim and whine.
If we were in the Upper Room it means that we’d stick our feet out so Jesus could not only wash them, but also give our toes a pedicure.
The culture of Christianity has taken on a strong element of putting Jesus in our pocket. Pocket Jesus! Sounds like a new Ronco product that you can pick up at Walgreen’s, located in the same aisle as the Chia Pet and Snuggies.
In his book Transforming Church, Kevin Ford writes of the danger of creating a culture of consumerism in the church instead of an emphasis on “community.” He writes: “Consumerism is individualism on steroids. It is the logical end product of living for self. Consumerism paves the way for the worship of self, and self-worship leaves us alone with the object of our devotion.” (Transforming Church, page 59)
Consumerism whispers that Jesus is at my disposal. He’s right there in my pocket to pull out when I need a little assistance. He’s that cross that I pull out if I run into any vampires. He’s the ointment for inconvenience. If I’ve made a mess of a situation he’s the “spot remover” to make it all go away. He’s duct tape for a tear. He’s prayer tonic for a bad hair day.
All of those things take their origin from a mindset that says Jesus is under my control, Jesus is there when it suits me personally. But you see, the Lordship of Christ can’t fit into a “Pocket Jesus”. Our Savior took our sins upon him, but recognizing Jesus as Lord is an entirely different understanding of his purpose, his relationship with each one of us, and who answers to who.
“Pocket Jesus” indicates a temporary interest, a fad, a craze.
Our storage closets are filled with some of our past “crazes.” They were useful and interesting for a time, but they gradually worked themselves into “has-beens”.
“Lord Jesus” is what that pocket New Testament proclaims. “Pocket Jesus” is what we often relegate him to.