Thank you Mosco for finding a great article from: http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=4282
11/15/2010 – Jamin Hubner
The vanity of values continues.
In this case, it continued in an article entitled “Message Fits to a T” on the front page of the Rapid City Journal’s section on Religion, published November 13, 2010. What did it say? And how does it demonstrate the continuing promulgation of valueless values?
Let us first refresh our memory.
There are many enemies and threats to the purity, organization, and existence of the Christian faith. There are unbelieving and oppressive governments. The secularism of the university, media, and the arts. False religions, false teachings, and the accuser of faithful Christian leaders. Yes, there’s alot of bad stuff “out there.”
But far worse, is the tendency of professing Christians to completely neuter the power of the faith by erasing the content of their own message. The greatest threats to God’s people come from within, not from outside. Uncomfortable thought, isn’t it? But, this at least explains some of the warnings in the New Testament regarding internal corruption (Romans 16:17, Ephesians 4:11-14, I Tim. 6:3-4, Titus 2:1). Defending the faith and protecting the faithful is all too easy when we can point to “them” and rest assured about “us.” The real challenge comes when those who claim to know God and label themselves as gospel-preachers preach non-gospel. Christless Christianity. No-news “good news.” “All foam and no beer.”
Sometimes, being the people of God is no more complicated than being nice. That’s the message of the “Be Nice, Because Nice Matters” T-shirts that have proven popular beyond the walls of Canyon Lake United Methodist Church in Rapid City. The church came up with the T-shirts this fall for its youth group ministry as part of its mission statement to “go out into the world to be the people of God.”
…Staff at Central High, Southwest Middle and Wilson Elementary schools have requested them. Wilson even declared each Wednesday “Be Nice Day.”
…Bachman started working at Canyon Lake UMC in July. The emphasis on community outreach led her to focus on helping gives learn that loving God means loving your neighbor. “We wanted to show the children that being nice matters in everything you do and is a direct reflection on representing Christ to all,” she said.
…”At a time where schedules are busy, families are stressed, people are struggling and life in general can get overwhelming, we need to remember to center on God first, then go out into the world to be the people of God. And we must remember while doing so to, ‘Be nice…because nice matters,'” Bachman said.
Some discerning thoughts are in order.
I love the idea of overwhelming people with such kindness that it befuddles them. I try and do that sometimes (the reactions are often memorable). I think Jesus did this on a regular basis. And it’s not like He just set the bar a little higher, Jesus is the standard, the definitional reference point for perfect ethical and moral behavior. He delivered a knowable, unsurpassable, sacrificial love that remains the greatest that has ever been witnessed in history.
That’s why these t-shirts are so confusing.
First of all, they proclaim a generic “niceness” completely detached from any source of what “nice” could mean. There can be as many different definitions about what “nice” means as there are people wearing (and reading) the shirts. Think about that. For every child-molester, thief, murderer, coveter, liar and deceiver that walks by, “nice” is merely what they think it means. I mean, it was “nice” for Hitler to save the human race from having to deal with these terrible Jews, was it not? It was “nice” for a 17 year old to swallow the pill and save her boyfriend the stress of a newborn baby, right? Upon what basis do we assert the contrary, as one proclaiming a message of totally subjective touchy-feely generic niceness, devoid of real substance and objectivity? There is none. Man is the measure of all things. He will define “nice” however he wants, and as a sinner, to his advantage and the disadvantage of everyone else around him. Without the clear proclamation of sin, repentance, and the need for Christ, all who wear and all who see such shirts will only end up re-asserting their current state of sin. It’s feeding more wood to a table saw that’s angled in the wrong direction. We’re fooling ourselves to think such t-shirts are going to do anything more.
Second, are we really to believe that Christianity is all about niceness, even if it did have meaning? Because if that’s the case, something tells me Jesus wouldn’t have worn the shirt – especially while he was flipping tables in the temple while screaming and whipping animals (Matt. 21). And the whole “kill the kids that swear at their parents” thing (Lev. 20:19) doesn’t seem very “nice” either – if we are to turn to God for definitions. Something is missing. Perhaps what’s missing is the rest of God (assuming the Bible tells us accurately about God)! Justice. Wrathful. Righteous. Holy. Granted, these things are not “anti-nice” or “contra-kindness.” They’re just not nice. An omnibenevolent God without coextensive and interconnected attributes is not the Christian God.
Third, are we really to believe that to “center on God first” means selling shirts that say “Just Be Nice, because Nice Matters”? Where is God? Where is Christ? Where is the gospel in these efforts to put Him first? It’s not there. And unless someone tells people (that is, preaches), they won’t see the need to flee from their sin and cling to Christ.
Fourth, being nice doesn’t matter. Being nice does not save souls from condemnation. There is no degree of niceness that will save a person from their just punishment. The soul that sins shall die, and rightly so, if we are to take God seriously in His Word. What matters is if you’re wearing the righteousness of Christ; all items of niceness and deeds of kindness are “filthy rags” in comparison to what God requires.
We might notice that the Methodist’s church’s efforts are 100% an application of Philip Anschutz’ Values.com. Has the same ring, and has the same overall goal. And as it was demonstrated earlier on Values.com, values are meaningless if they are undefined and disconnected from a meaning-giver. Unless you point to something solid and revealing and knowable and accessible and sufficient and just and right, “values” and “nice” means absolutely nothing.
So wearing a t-shirt that says “Just be nice, because Nice Matters” is like giving someone a map that says “just drive north, and you’ll get there.” Helpful? No. Christian? No, not if Christian actually means something unique. Our religion is not a collection of slogans. It is not an effort to be nice and see others be the same. And it certainly isn’t a faith that lets God-hating creatures define what niceness is and isn’t on God’s earth and on God’s watch.
So while the “be nice” t-shirts are for most folks cute and funny and spreading Christianity, in reality, they are either useless, or counter-productive. If our evangelical efforts were forced to be through t-shirts, perhaps it should read like this: Front: “Have you stolen? Lied? Lusted? Put yourself ahead of others?” Back: “Well, you’re in trouble. Because God is there. And He isn’t nice to people who ignore Him and His law. Repent fast, and trust in Jesus.” Or, more simple, Front: “God in the flesh demonstrated perfect love and kindness.” Back: “Read about it in His Word, and do the same.”