Christianity is a business, and truth is the product. Not really. At times it’s hard not to think that. So much of religious display in the world appears to be nothing more than a spectacle of franchises, each one peddling the same thing in different ways. You’ve even been urged by the media to “attend the church of your choice,” as if the buildings represent one of numerous seemingly harmless companies, all in pleasant competition with each other.
This can lead to the misconception that the congregation is like a business and that the assembly and any outreach efforts are basically a matter of public relations. You can end up resorting to marketing tactics. People are reduced to consumers. It is obvious that this comparison doesn’t work. A business must customize for the customer. Your flavor is dictated by the preferences of the people. It’s an ancient axiom. “The customer is always right.” Some have fallen into the trap of thinking that this applies to Christianity. In order to sustain numbers, many religious groups today fret over various “styles” of worship shaped by the preferences of its members. The assembly becomes merely entertainment. The concern seems to be mostly about what the people want. Christianity is not shaped by the likes and dislikes of people. The things that please us run a distant second to what pleases God (Eph. 5:10). This misunderstanding was the very thing that caused Peter to temporarily get off track. He thought he had good reasons to remodel the agenda in Jerusalem. Even though he meant well, his perception was way off, because he was too concerned about earthly preferences. Jesus told Peter, “you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matt. 16:23). Peter had good intentions, but his program suffered from too much worldly thinking.
Christians don’t do these things in order to make the truth more marketable (Gal. 1:10). They act to please the Father. We have no bargaining power with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Any leverage vanished long ago with the first sin. Anyone who makes their devotion to Jesus conditional on whether or not their own preferences are met does not have a clear grasp of the situation. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). A Christian knows that he must deny himself and not indulge himself. This is not a democracy. Polls hold no sway here. A person can get distracted by the activities of denominations. Fooled into thinking that sheer growth in numbers equals success, then compromises are made. Although we hope and pray for the lost to respond to the truth, we know “the gate is small and the way is narrow” (Matt. 7:14). We should not sully the bride of Christ with the construct of business and the practices of man-made religions.