I once received an email notifying me Williams-Sonoma has Star Wars cookie cutters on sale. I chuckled a little bit, because I usually assume Williams-Sonoma is a bit high brow. Geek has gone Chic, with even high end outlets realizing the power of the geek. Wired Magazine has a blog called GeekDad, and Japanese culture has seen the rise of the Otaku, a status once looked down upon as unproductive.
Geek has become big business.
So much, even the Martha Stewart crowd gets into it. The popular Apple vs. PC commercials show the transition from a former negative (pc) to a new (and cooler) definition of being a geek.
Our culture will conform to anything if a seemingly positive result will emerge.
No matter what the negative may be, if quantifiable gain appears, we will sacrifice previous feelings to push progress. This topic of “geek” is tongue in cheek, but nerds truly have revenge now.
What is our brand identity as Christians?
The topic of progress and relevancy often pushes the church forward. Adaptability is a key concept in mission. Contextualization is key.
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (NRSV)
The hinge point in this verse lies in the and. We are called to engage and provide in the world, but while doing so we are to avoid the pitfalls of the sinful world. What is interesting in this verse is the relationship between “undefiled” (ἀμίαντος) and “unstained”(ἄσπιλον). At first glance they appear as synonyms. But the meaning and shape of these two words lie within the sacrificial tradition of Israel. Sacrificial animals were required to be spotless and undefiled. Christ is presented as a spotless lamp in Revelation.
Our actions of mission are sacrificial. In them, we represent the Father’s covenant promise to forgive sin, through the person Jesus Christ, and echoing the tradition of Israel in the Old Testament. In this process, we need to be extremely careful we are not greatly conforming to culture. When we lose our prophetic and sacrificial presence, we lose our mission. Just because a quick gain can be found, do we trade this in by offering something that doesn’t match up with our character (Star Wars cookie cutters fitting in with $500 knives)?
Do our transitions break our greater resemblance of Gods people?
Do we still look like him constantly, are we obviously pursuing holiness because God has commanded it (1 Peter 1:15)?
More simply, have we broken our brand identity?
Just as jarring as the cookie cutters relates to the suburban high end cooking store, when Christianity as taken in the world so much we no longer appear to be outside the culture, our alarms should be going off.