I can't take it anymore. I can't. If someone doesn't talk me down, I'm going to throw myself off a bridge. One more Jesus-bumper sticker will push me over the edge.
"Jesus -- Tougher than Hell."
"Warning: In the event of rapture this vehicle will be unmanned."
"1 Cross + 3 Nails = 4 Given"
"Too Blessed to be Depressed."
"This car is prayer-conditioned."
Who makes these things? And since when did living faith get reduced to sound bites and sticky paper? What did Christendom do before these things were invented?
And it's not just bumper stickers, you know. That is just the start. We now have coffee mugs, bookmarks, backpacks, screensavers, key chains, socks, toe rings and wallets bearing the "Christian" message. Though I suspect it is the marketers' message more than Jesus'.
The sacred has been married to the cheesy, plastic and mass-produced simply because there is a market for such things. The government of China won't let their people worship freely, but we are more than happy to send them our money for the trinkets their workers make.
I cannot begin to imagine proponents of other faiths adopting these same kinds of commercialized methods.
Have you ever seen a devout Jew wearing a T-shirt that says, "Yahweh is my homeboy!" or a yamika embroidered with some gaudy proclamation?
When was the last time you saw a Buddhist wearing a ball cap with the lotus position symbol on the front of it?
Have you ever driven behind a Muslim with a "Honk if you love Mohammed" sticker on the back of his car? It will never happen.
Now anyone who reads my column for any length of time knows that I have little affection for custom and tradition for the sake of custom and tradition. That's not what I'm talking about at all. It is the union of the Almighty with the all-mighty dollar that makes me grind my teeth.
It has been rightly said that Christianity began in Israel as a way of life. It was taken to Greece and made into a philosophy. It came to Rome and was turned into an institution. When it came to Europe, it was adopted as a culture, and when it arrived in America we turned it into a business.
We are especially vulnerable to commerce-driven Christianity during this season of the year. Apparently, we think that stacks and stacks of packages is the best way to respect our Lord.
So what if the economy is bad? So what if you don't have enough money for the purchases you are making? So what if you can't make your minimum payments on your credit cards?
"Jesus is the reason for the season" (another bumper sticker I can't stomach considering that Jesus wasn't born on Dec. 25 in the first place) so buy something to honor his birthday. Again, this sounds more like a marketing trick than the voice of Christ.
I renew this challenge: Do something subversive. Get off the materialistic merry-go-round. Abandon the mall. Suspend your online purchases. Lock away your credit cards. Show restraint with your shopping. You might find in letting go of all this for just a little while, a whole new way of living can emerge.
And that whole new way of living is what is so badly needed. A way of life that does not need Christian sound bites, trite little bumper stickers or figurines of Jesus giving a high five to his teammates on the soccer field for $24.95 plus shipping and handling (I swear you can buy these) to communicate the message.
You see, the way we live is the message. We are the communication. Take away every piece of Christian merchandise. Silence every televangelist. Turn off every religious radio program, and the world would suffer very little for it. It would push us Christians back to living our faith, not selling it.
My friend Landon Saunders says, "Wear your religion like you wear your underwear -- rarely seen." That's good advice for your body and your bumper.
From Ronnie McBrayer's blog, "Leaving Salem." McBrayer leads a Simple Faith Church in Seagrove Beach, Fla., and writes and speaks about life, faith and Christ-centered spirituality. He is also the author of the newly released "Leaving Religion, Following Jesus." For more inforation, visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net