Mystery, secrets, the “feel-good” life, church conspiracies and a testimony of a terrific man. This about sums up the “Christian religion” section at our local library. The section is one shelf long containing a poorly chosen 20-25 books (except for “Just as I am” by Billy Graham). Among the only well-known authors were Billy Graham and Joel Osteen. So what about CS Lewis, GK Chesterton or D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. Of the living, perhaps they could shelf John Piper, John MacArthur, RC Sproul, Max Lucado, Kevin DeYoung or Ravi Zacharias. I am thankful they chose one author, who is renown the world over, Billy Graham.
As I looked at the shelf, I realized I was looking at a snapshot most Americans have when it comes to Christianity. Say the word “religion” and at least these two things may come to mind to average Joe; everyone has seen a Billy Graham crusade, and everyone has at least heard of the “Da Vinci Code”, by Dan Brown. Religion itself though is rarely on America’s radar. Religion is brought back into focus in ones life when a few things happen; a tragedy strikes, the Holy Spirit is really prodding their hearts to search out the truth, or when a “church conspiracy” or mystery is brewing. Vatican secrets, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, the shroud of Turin all tantalize the imagination into the question, “what would we really know if all secrets were revealed? That Jesus Christ really didn’t rise from the grave? That the church really is a way to control the masses?”
But people start asking questions with answers that they just don’t like. When an answer comes they don’t like, the question is asked again but to a different set of authors who will give them the answer they like. We are not really a spiritually minded society anymore, so spiritual questions don’t really have a place anymore on the list of questions to be answered, but when a spiritual question is asked, a natural answer is desired.
All that to say, this was somewhat of a reminder to me that shows where most people are in relationship to the church in America. We treat religion the way we shop, the way we view entertainment: sell me, thrill me, pick me up shake me around and set me down wobbly-legged. Who wants to go to a “church service” these days?