My hair stylist cancelled my appointment yesterday because of a schedule conflict, and for a few minutes afterward I searched the Internet for the Flowbee, the vacuum-attachment haircutting system that lets you give yourself a buzz cut. (I really, really need a haircut.) Very popular on the infomercials a decade ago, the Flowbee is still manufactured, and if the testimonials are to be believed, still giving great haircuts. But few people are buying them anymore. After a couple of recalls and too many jokes about the product, the Flowbee just isn't selling.
Oddly, the Flowbee reminded me of what Donald Miller said at Catalyst in Atlanta earlier this month. At the pre-conference session, Miller (of Blue Like Jazz and the Campus Confession Booth) pondered the growing consumerism in our society and in our faith. I was prepared for him to deride the consumerist nature of churches, especially megachurches, but I didn't expect this one comment:
We've turned Jesus into a product, and we've become products ourselves. (That's an indirect quote, but it's pretty close to his exact words.)
Our churches are products, he said predictably, and we sell them to church shoppers based of the quality of our programs, the relevance of our preaching, the coolness of our worship, and even the authenticity of our community.
(Louie Giglio's later message on worship echoed this theme, that worship has become a product rather than interpersonal communion with God; we can have superior worship experiences and still be deficient in relationship with God, because it's become all about the worship rather than the One we worship.)
But Miller caught my attention when he said we've turned Jesus into a product - the healer of hurts, the soother of raw feelings, the better-than-a-brother friend. In my part of the world, we'd say he's the WD-40/duct tape combo pack: all you need to fix almost anything. And thus, Jesus has become a product. (Am I guilty of selling Jesus? I wondered, thinking back to my last sermon. Sure, the televangelists with their Scripture key chains and Jesus pins and healing hankies and Protestant holy water are guilty, but am I?)
And Miller stopped me cold when he said we, as believers, have become products.
Is Miller correct? Have we become not trophies of grace, but the by-products of a product-Savior and his product, the church? Are we the fixed, the recalled-and-repaired, the better-than-new, the but-wait-there's-more, and the soon-irrelevant - like so many Flowbees?
I think I don't want to be a product.
But I still need a haircut.