Last week I attended the Christian bookseller's annual convention in Denver, Colorado, which I saw as an opportunity to introduce my book, "Like Father, Like Son" to Christian bookstore owners from all around the country. Hopefully, several will choose to carry the book in their stores.
As I waited for my designated book-signing time one Wednesday afternoon, I had lots of time to walk around and talk to men who might be interested in reading my book. I prayed for "divine appointments" and I believe I had a few of them, in the process meeting some great guys on the floor who also had a heart to become more faithful in their fathering role.
But I was impacted by something else as I walked through the huge Denver convention hall filled with aisles and aisles of booths promoting religious books, gifts and paraphernalia. After awhile the whole scene just started to "creep me out." The first things I saw each day when I walked into the exhibit hall were "Christian Pirates" crying, "Arrrrrh matey! Praise ye the Lord!" This was timed to capitalize on the Johnny Depp "Pirates Of The Carribbean" craze. Then I saw clowns on stilts, Jesus candy, huggable Jesus dolls you get the picture. Do I need to go on?
And the majority of the books offered seemed to be only tacky Christian imitations of our popular culture's obsession with the Self, the glorification of personal experiences, "success" and celebrity. There seemed to be little room for the simple message of Christ and His cross. I guess that just doesn't won't sell books or entertain readers in today's market. I couldn't get George Barna's Research Institute's statistic about American Evangelical Christians out of my mind, that only 9 percent of us possess a Biblical worldview. Sadly, this market-driven, rather than Christ-centered approach, only continues to cater to that remaining 91 percent in the evangelical audience along with the rest of the world with "Gospel Lite" products, that "taste great and ARE less filling!"
We in the Church have tried so hard to be RELEVANT and inoffensive to those outside the Church it seems we have forgotten the importance of being REVERENT. I believe the most important thing for me to remember is that I can make a real difference in my children's perception of how they "see" God despite the crazy irreverent culture we live in. My kids are studying you and me to know what is in our hearts and they WILL find us out when it comes to our relationship with God.
They are constantly watching and listening to us when we speak about God or when we speak to Him as we openly pray. And when we sin against them, they want to know if we see ourselves as accountable to a holy God or if we are only holding THEM accountable to Him. Do we live our lives behind closed doors at home unashamedly conscious of the presence of God or are we more about making a good impression, marketing an image to others outside our home?
And you know as I walked down those aisles in that Denver Convention Center I really couldn't grab a whip and turn over the tables as Jesus did with the temple money changers in Jerusalem. At least not until after my book signing was done! I couldn't even point a condemning finger at my brothers and sisters in Christ there. I think I was only facing a mirror that reflected back my similar desire to be relevant, to gain an audience, to be popular and well-received. I have become more acutely aware of this tendency in me since I have become a dad with two teens at home at the same time (our two youngest are now 16 and 14). They don't laugh at my jokes anymore. Now their laughter often seems to be a kind of mocking laugh of those who believe to be "oh so much wiser" than their old outdated 50-Something Dad!
But I can take heart! Being "cool, being relevant" is NOT my God-ordained job. Being reverent is. If I will single-mindedly focus on THAT I will eventually become very relevant to them. I will become a solid rock for them, a stepping-stone amidst today's turbulent ego-driven, man-glorifying waters, a place for them to find a safe foothold on their journey to gain an accurate concept of the Heavenly Father. And this Heavenly Father is patiently waiting to become the most important Person in their lives both now and forever. And hey, what could be cooler than that?!