March 18, 2008

Why Barnes & Noble Is A Very Dangerous Place

Last night, my wife and I had date night. Our boys are out on spring break and hanging with the grandparents, so we availed ourselves of the opportunity to enjoy an evening out.

We had a nice dinner, stopped at a hair cut place to purchase hair product, bought guitar strings, scheduled a pedicure, and then headed to the capstone of the evening - Barnes & Noble.

Now I will confess here, B&N is one of my favorite places in all the universe. I am a book junkie. I love reading. It's like a two year old walking into a McDonald's play place.

So I instantly ditched my wife and began browsing the thousands of choices that awaited me. I was informed that there was no time limit for me doing this, but that there was a dollar limit. So I was bummed right off the bat.

I checked out the new releases, the bargain tables, and made my way to the religion and spirituality sections. On a side note, as I was walking to the religion aisles, I passed three sections that were strategically placed together: Relationships - Sexuality - and Self Improvement. All towards the front of the store and all right next to the Starbucks café. There's a whole 'nother post to be written about that and its implications for me as a beginning church planter, but I'll save that for another day.

I arrive in the religion section and begin perusing the selections. And I'll tell you, before I left for the night, I was concerned, discouraged, and fired up all at the same time. Let me explain why.

I came to the conclusion last night that the word Christianity has no meaning anymore. Not because Jesus isn't the Savior and not because Jesus isn't supreme, but because we're calling everything under the sun Christian these days. I saw this book in the aisle along with this book by John Shelby Spong who has denied every core tenet of the Christian faith starting with the virgin birth and ending with the resurrection. I saw books from liberal Catholic scholars and liberal "New Christians" as Barnes and Noble labeled the table where their books resided.

It was all very disturbing and I said to my wife on more than one occasion that I was looking at books that if people believed and trusted what was written in the pages of them, that we were looking at doorways to hell. Plain and simple.

These were books that have absolutely distorted, redefined, repackaged, and reincarnated a Jesus that never existed. And the saddest part for me was to watch the numerous people who were picking these books up and buying them. I truly hurt for them. I wanted to rip the book out of their hand and warn them about the direction they were headed. I wanted to stop them from jumping off a cliff into a sea of stupidity that will never tell them who the Jesus revealed in the Bible is. I wanted to rescue them from the book they were going to read.

And it hit me: That's why I'm planting Eternity. Because we are in a world where the rough edges on Jesus have been shaved away so that He can be more marketable and palatable to the refined senses of the 21st century.

And I am so passionate about putting the rough edges back on Jesus. His bloody death, His awful suffering, His total humiliation, His victorious resurrection, His final and absolute defeat of all his enemies, His glory as reigning King, and His majesty as ruler of the Universe.

I learned a lot last night at the bookstore. More than I wanted to. But I saw very clearly how a bookstore reflects the battle that we must wage for the hearts and souls of a lost and hurting world.

I only bought one book last night. The title: "Authenticity".

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