Thursday, January 26, 2006


iPods and The Cross

I ran across this article about a pastor in Houston that is using the iPod to talk about the gospel. He is the midst if a sermon series called "iPod Theology," the main gist of which is that the iPod is so simple, and that life can also be simple. Now, I don't have my own iPod (but my birthday is coming up in seven short months, hint-hint), but I have my own take on how the iPod relates to our life in Christ.

The pastor, in making his point about the simple life, says this: "All you do on the outside is push the little button, drive the wheel and pick what usefulness you want out of your iPod," he said. "And so when Jesus talks to us about simplification, it must start on the inside." While the first step in a relationship with Jesus is a simple choice to follow Him, it is much more complicated than that. Just like the iPod, much work and effort went into the salvation process to make it simple for us. With the iPod, there were designers, computer programmers, engineers, musicians, etc. all working to bring about this product. With God, there was the Law - not simple - and then there was the sacrifice of Jesus - not easy - that went into developing a reconciliation with God. And once we start that relationship, it is often not as easy as kicking back and listening to tunes.

The pastor goes on to say, "When I go to iTunes, I select all that I want. When I go to Jesus Christ, he gives me all that I need. It's that simple." Yes, Jesus gives us all we need, but the implication here is that we can design for ourselves what our life in Christ will look like. Fortunately, we don't get to pick the playlist of our lives. When we sign on to follow Jesus, we are submitting ourselves to his playlist. We might want to hear the song of self-gratification; He plays the song of self-sacrifice. We might want to hear a tune about looking out for #1; He plays the tune of service and selflessness. We try to dial in a song about pleasure; He dials up one about dying for Him. We are not afforded the luxury or deciding what our life will sound like once we follow Jesus - He plays it for us. And it's not always easy to hear.

"When I am sitting here and I am rocking out with my music ... you don't know what I am listening to. That is between me and the iPod," he said. "That's between me and God. That's between you and God. All I can be responsible for is myself." This statement by the pastor is one that is very pervasive in evangelicalism. We talk at length about a "personal relationship with Jesus." While our relationship with Jesus should be a personal thing, it is not just about you and Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus should be seen in the greater context of the Church. When the Bible speaks about the great marriage, He talks about Jesus being the groom, and the Church being the bride. Fitz is not the bride (although I bet I would look good in one of those dresses); the Church is. The relationship with Jesus is not simply about you and Him; it is about you and Him and the Church. It may be personal, but it is not individualistic. When you try to keep it to yourself, you are like an eye trying to function like a whole body all by itself (another of the metaphors used for the Church). It simply won't work that way.

I fully expect to hear back from my good friend Brian, since he is the Apple expert. Any of the rest of you have any thoughts?

6 comments:

Emmerly said...

That's certainly an interesting view on it all. I don't think I ever could have put it into that sort of perspective. It's a lot to digest .. I agree with some points and on others I'm a little unsure.

Brother Rob said...

I can't even comprehend a pastor comparing God in whom there is no shifting of shadow, who is immutable and transcendent . . . to such a temporal item as an iPod? He should resign. He is feeding the sheep pablum. His sheep are being led to the slaughter. "The neat thing about God" is that He is greater than the moron preachers that seem to abound in the U.S. To compare God to an iPod is no different than comparing Him to the malleable idols of false worship.

Fitz said...

Wow Rob, that's kind of harsh, isn't it? I mean, Jesus was all the time comparing the Kingdom of God - granted, not God, but also eternal - to temporal things like mustard seeds and a widow with a coin. It simply puts it in terms that people can understand. It's called a parable; maybe you've heard of them. ;-) While I don't agree with some of the conclusions the pastor came to, to call him an idol-worshipper and to call for his ouster is a bit strong...

Anonymous said...

The best way to get where this pastor is coming from is to listen to some of his other sermons, and to read what he's written, etc. That might clear up whether he's going for the parable (which is sometimes neccesary to reach an audience, whether it's childrens, teens, non-believers, whatever), or if he's theologically unsure about how to describe God.
By the way Mike.....my car did die on New Years (seriously.....I'm not making that up), but not until on my way home from church on I-90. I hope you're not offended that I called AAA instead of you this time...but I figured since it wasn't the middle of the night that would take the fun out of it. Mark

Brother Rob said...

I have no problem with someone comparing objects to attributes of God or His kingdom . . . when they are accurate representations. I was direct. But I believe one of the problems most prophets (I am not suggesting I am a prophet)faced is that the establishment did not like the direct approaches of the prophets and being called on the carpet for false teaching.

Allister said...

How crazy to compare God to an iPod..

..almost as crazy as comparing our faith to Diet Coke.

:)