23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. -Col. 3:23
Jesus is Lord over all the spheres of life, right?
Do you agree? Or is he confined to the church, and outside of those doors, He is powerless? I doubt that you think that way, but maybe you unwittingly operate as if it's true. Maybe WE unwittingly operate that way.
Well, if He's Lord of all the areas of life, then whatever it is we do, we should do it for God so as to be a proper witness to what being a Christian is about. God didn't create in a substandard way, and neither should we.
If you are a plumber, you should be the most honest, fair-charging plumber in town, known for quality work that is worth what you charge. If you clean toilets, you should be known for being willing to humble yourself without complaint, as Jesus did when He washed the disciples' feet.
We all agree with that, don't we? When we read verses like the one that starts this article, we all understand that God calls us to excellence?
Then, I ask you, why do Christian artists not understand this? Why is the Christian sub-culture so accepting of blatantly secondhand ideas?
Here are a few to show you what I mean. Consider this my Wall of Shame for Christian artists. And lest you try to tar & feather me, consider this page of my website. Maybe not the best piece of writing ever, but it wasn't someone else's idea (though I freely admit I got the bicycle wheel metaphor from a speaker at GCTS chapel, but let's be honest, I think we can agree that I likely know more about the bicycle wheel than they did. I think they might've spoken of straightening a tire...)
(a note before I begin: though I believe what I'm writing here, I have no interest in disparaging these writers/musicians. I'm sure they worked very hard on what they put out and don't need me sniping from the sidelines---but I don't think that makes my observations less valid. Iron sharpens iron.)
This VBS may be a wonderful experience for kids. I'm sure its creators wish the best for our children. I don't know. What I do know for sure is that when I see its box looking like a blatant rip-off of Gilligan's Island, I want to call the people who made the TV series and tell them to call a lawyer. Has this show somehow entered Public Domain without my realizing it?
My So Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife
I took a quick look at this book, and it looks clever- if it wasn't a double rip off. First of all, the title makes me want to call Claire Daines (that's her in the famous ABC show that the title was taken from) and the concept itself comes from A.J. Jacobs' books- take the Bible literally and see what happens. So... what part of this book DID Sara Horn come up with?
Then there's the 2013 Yada Yada Prayer Group series. Does this one sound familiar? It should, because the title (maybe the contents too? I haven't read them) is a xerox copy of a NYT best-seller and prize-winning 2004 book (also turned into a feature film) called Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. (Also, isn't the Yada Yada part from Seinfeld? I mean, he didn't make it up, but isn't that what popularized it?).
Perhaps you're saying at this point, 'but maybe these authors have never heard of the books/TV Shows to which you refer. " I don't think so, because it's too obvious, but even if they weren't aware, that's what their publishing company is for.
Still, the ripoff is just too blatant to be blamed on that. Just to show you I'm not playing favorites, here's one from a band that was close to my heart growing up, the Altar Boys. Great group in a lot of ways, but when I finally heard XTC's "Life Begins At The Hop", it sounded uncomfortably like something I'd grown up with, namely The Altar Boys' "Life Begins At the Cross". If they had simply credited who they were borrowing from, perhaps it would be ok, but listen to the two, and you'll find out how right I am. That makes me feel like I've been had. Like I've had a trick played on me as a teen. That the band was secretly laughing at me and my peers for being too sheltered to know they had taken a song's whole chorus (and title) from a popular "secular" band of the day.
There's a cynical phrase popular in cycling circles to describe how too many bike manufacturers make a product for women: "Shrink It & Pink It", meaning just make a smaller size and paint it in "girly" colors. Perhaps in the case of these Christian products the phrase should be "Take It & Fake it" (we have to copy the phrasing of the original, because as Christians we can't seem to come up with our own ideas).
We steal ideas from 'The World', then rub salt in the wound (we're told in the Bible to be salt and light) by condemning the secular culture rather than crediting them, (since they are 'dirty', and to be looked upon as suspect and unenlightened) We make our own version of someone else's idea, which naturally comes out as second-rate because we aren't striving for any sort of excellence, since those we're marketing to don't demand better, and because that which is better is held to be "worldly", "fleshly", and "carnal".
'We don't need to worship the recording process and the tricks of the trade, we just record it the same old way and pray that Jesus annoints it.' Sure, I'm all for praying over what you've created, But do you see what a lazy copout that is? That, and all it represents?
We don't need to
- learn new instrumental techniques, or use new sounds
- pursue new directions or ideas in preaching or liturgy
- struggle to come up with a unique plotline or structure for novels---or even put ourselves into them at all.
Or so they'd like you to believe. I don't.
Nor do I think that zippy guitars and flashy graphics will have any major effect in getting people to attend church. I think that when a person is ready, they'll be there whatever the service is like.
"When the student is ready, the teacher appears".
BUT, that doesn't mean we just sit around in a dirty old sanctuary doing the same old service again and again, because spiritually hungry people aren't convinced by the trappings. I'm not even talking about the trappings. I'm saying if we truly believe in God, and believe that he created us and sunsets and the green of trees in the spring and tulips and ocean waves, then surely we should be inspired to do the very best work we can in imitation of Him?