A while ago every Christian celebrity donned a WWJD bracelet. A fad that no doubt generated loads of money. The phrase was “What would Jesus do?” (often abbreviated to WWJD) as a supposed personal motto for Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of Jesus and what he would do in the 1990s.
One fad will always be replaced by another. The meanings and symbolism attached to the different fads may sometimes change to become more inclusive. If you asked the modern day Roman catholic what a rosary is he would strip his chest bare and show you a set of beads with a cross attached. Not many would explain that the word rosary actually comes from Latin and means a garland of roses, the rose being one of the flowers used to symbolize the Virgin Mary.
Evangelicalism never stays long without a fad of its own. There is always something being introduced to ‘help’ noncommittal Christians either remember Jesus, remember to buy a goat for a family in Africa (I am definitely not against this) or remember to go to church on Sunday or better still remember to be good.
So, have you been “Marked?” That’s the password to the next fad. The Mend Mark is supposedly an innovative and distinctive bracelet that is designed to reflect the scars and nail holes of Jesus. It’s broader appeal has been loosely defined as a bracelet meant to inspire and motivate wearers to live a life of service. Others call it a bracelet of love, to spread an ambiguous love all around the world. To others it can mean what ever you want it to mean. For those in the know and relevant show-biz elite class you may have seen the “Mark” bracelet being donned by American Idol winner Lee Dewyze, Idol runner up Siobhan Magnus, Decifer Down, Israel Houghton & New Breed, Pillar, and Finding Favour. Wearers are advised that they should be prepared to be seen. Hunter Harrison, the creator of the “Marked” bracelet says “I want it to be more than just another bracelet; I want it to represent a movement.” The “Mark” has been fronted by mega church pastors and the popular catch phrase is “He made His mark, now is the time for us to use that example and make our own.”
But what if all this fervent merchandising of bracelet gimmicks has only served to drive us overboard? We no longer preach the gospel as being the power of God unto salvation but have resorted to selling rosaries, charms, bracelets and programmes to keep the “christian” brand going. No wonder our converts have to be reminded to remain holy and righteous by adorning moral tags and reminders? Something has definitely gone wrong some where. Where is the work of the Holy Spirit- he is the one to regenerate and remind us of all that Christ is and what we should be.
Charles Spurgeon once said regarding spurious doctrinal practices:
I cannot endure false doctrine, however neatly it may be put before me. Would you have me eat poisoned meat because the dish is of the choicest ware? It makes me indignant when I hear another gospel put before the people with enticing words, by men who would fain make merchandise of souls; and I marvel at those who have soft words for such deceivers.
While J.I Packer on gimmicks in Christianity once lamented:
“All devices for exerting psychological pressure in order to precipitate ‘decisions’ must be eschewed, as being in truth presumptuous attempts to intrude into the province of the Holy Ghost. Such pressures may even be harmful for while they may produce the outward form of ‘decision,’ they cannot bring about regeneration and a change of heart, and when the ‘decisions’ wear off those who registered them will be found ‘gospel-hardened’ and antagonistic.”
Todays young generation is incessantly bombarded with fads in church in the name of relevance. When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like: 1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”
Those who understand the implications of this form of Christianity know that one now faces the challenge of evangelizing a nation that largely considers itself Christian, overwhelmingly believes in some deity, considers itself fervently religious, but has virtually no connection to historic Christianity.
I have always thought if I am to get marked, I should get marked for preaching repentance and faith in Christ. For if we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible . Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else.
I am a marked man now.