Easter Lion?April 30, 2012
A few weeks ago on Easter, Texas megachurch pastor Ed Young, Jr. had a live caged lion on stage as a prop for his sermon. Bud Kennedy, a columnist for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram posted a photo of the moment. At the time, I joked on Facebook: "Wonder how much money Ed Young wasted on caged lion on stage as a sermon prop. Christians used to be able to get a lion for free!" One of my friends asked me about my comment since he thought the lions "got" the Christians. I then added that he was correct, but my snide point was that I do not think today's commercialized American mega-church culture would warrant such persecution. For some reason, Young's caged lion keeps coming back to my mind--perhaps because it is a perfect example of what ails American Christianity (Young, by the way, has been criticized for his lavish lifestyle). He could have simply told a story about the lion and the lamb (which in the photo looks creepily like he is about to feed the lamb to the lion). But instead, Young felt compelled to put on a good show. When theatrics replaces theology, money is wasted on sermon props instead of life-changing missions work. The caged lion incident reminds me of the story about Baptist minister-farmer Clarence Jordan being shown around a large church building. When the pastor bragged about how much money the large cross cost, Jordan responded, "Shucks! Time was you could get one for free!" While Young's sermon prop is an extreme example, it should cause us all to pause and wonder about what, in God's name, are we wasting and if we can find salvation despite being like the rich young ruler (in Mark 10). Perhaps we are the caged ones.