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Thursday, October 22, 2009

This morning when R&M had gone to work, I sat down to finish looking through a pile of catalogues that came in the mail yesterday. The first one I picked up was one that heaven knows how it got to my house, but it was full of ‘Christian’ gifts. I don’t know what I was expecting, but by the time I finished looking at it I was disillusioned.

Now I like cute dust catchers and stuff hanging on my walls and cups with pretty pictures as much as the next sentimental woman, but after looking through this catalogue I don’t think I’ll like them quite as much in the future. The book was full of cutesy ideas for “promoting our faith”, and “building a witness” and “proclaiming our allegiance” and “testifying of Salvation.” There was a plethora of necklaces and bracelets and key chains: all of them purporting to be a “constant reminder of God’s Promises,” “encouraging words before us,” and “shining reminders that God hears our prayers." There were bracelets with John 3:16 and I Corinthians 13:13 engraved on them. There were charms with faith hope, trust, love, and kindness logos dangling from them. Cross necklaces with inspirational words engraved on them promised to ‘make a statement’ of your faith designed “to start thoughtful and faith-provoking conversations where ever you go” There was even a crystal cross proclaimed to be ‘faith filled finery.’ Inside it was a mustard seed and a couple sprigs of greenery! And there were military ‘dogtags’ adapted with scriptures and witnesses instead of the standard name and serial number….

There were statuettes and plaques and wall hangings and appliqu├ęd banners, each designed to be a "silent and constant" “proclamation of your faith.” One was declared to be a “silent testimony to the Creator.” A set of wind chimes was designed to remind us every time the wind blows that ‘we are not alone.’ There were religious symbols modeled onto lapel pins, tie tacs, ball-point pens, key chain fobs . There was even a ‘prayer crock’ with a pretty floral heart and a pad of small note pages. Prayer requests were to be written on the papers and placed in the jar where we could “rest secure in the knowledge that your heavenly Father hears you.” There were coffee cups and travel mugs and candle holders and neck ties! ( For goodness sake!) All of them designed with pictures and sayings to be a ‘silent witness.’

Now I do believe that there is a real need to be a ‘silent witness’ in the world today. There is a crying need for sinners to see men and women of God quietly and faithfully living out the gospel message. Now that is not to say that we should never speak of our salvation and what God had done and what He requires of us. No, no, no. But too often there is too much talk and not enough living. False religion has substituted much speaking for liv[ing] soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

Now we come up with these religious messages plastered on all kinds of chintzy objects, shouting out isolated words and scriptures and pictures, all designed to circumvent the crying need for righteous living. If we LIVE out the message of Christ in righteousness and holiness, we will have an impact on those we live with and meet daily. There must be a dramatic difference between the Christian and the world. If there isn’t, all the cute mottos, and necklaces and coffee cups and plaques and teeshirts will be worse than useless. These things plastered across the living space of men and women living like sinners but proclaiming their spiritual connection have a negative effect--instead of drawing people to God, the heap scorn and negation on the very name of Jesus.

I once knew a lady who liked to wear tee shirts with scriptures and cute religious sayings on them. She was ignorant of any message of righteous living, so some of the fault must lie with the men who served her as pastors, but her fits of temper and bad language belied the message she sanctimoniously proclaimed on her tee shirt. People had no confidence in her and by association, no faith in God either.

Now some of the things in the catalogue were pretty. A couple of them I thought I’d like to have myself, but not to substitute for a holy life. I liked them for the same reason I have pretty pictures hanging on my wall. They were pleasing to the eye; but I wouldn't depend on them to proclaim a message of salvation. To do that, I depend on living a consistant life for God. If you walk into my sitting room…looking around right now…there is no visible indicator of my religious belief. Even my Bible is on the shelf behind my chair and not visible to the casual observer. But anyone who spends any time with me, I hope, will find a difference between my attitude and lifestyle and that of most senior citizens.

If you like the kinds of things I’ve been talking about, that’s okay. There really isn’t anything wrong with most of them. So if you have religious things hanging on your wall and your coffee cup says "Prayer changes Things" I'm not faulting you. However, don’t rely on them to proclaim your salvation. Do that by living righteously before the Lord and your neighbors.

The scriptures keeps running through my head: Whose adorning let it not be that outward . . . But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (I Peter 3:4-5) Granted this is speaking of women and their penchant for jewelry and fancy hair dos and fine clothes, but it is certainly still applicable to all children of God regardless of their gender. The hidden man of the heart clad in a meek and quiet spirit is the greatest witness, not plaques on walls or banners or neckties or necklaces.

Okay, I’ve vented.

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