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?