Authors: Jonathan Acuff
Stuff Christians Like
Copyright © 2010 by Jonathan Acuff
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.
ePub Edition FEBRUARY 2010 ISBN: 978-0-310-39584-3
Requests for information should be addressed to:
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Acuff, Jonathan M.
Stuff Christians Like / Jonathan Acuff.
ISBN 978-0-310-31994-8 (softcover)
1. Christian life – Anecdotes. 2. Wit and humor – Religious aspects – Christianity.
270.8’30207 – dc22
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982, by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked KJV are taken from King James Version of the Bible.
Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers printed in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by Zondervan, nor does Zondervan vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.
Stuff Jon Likes: Jenny.
If you buy this book, God will make you rich.
I was going to say, “If you
this book,” but I’m pretty sure people who get it at the library won’t receive the same amount of awesomeness as people who buy it.
So if you’re standing in the bookstore right now, debating whether to buy this book, I guess the real question is, “Do you like money?”
And a really nice car?
And having a better marriage?
And polite children?
And two well-defined eyebrows?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, I’m not sure why you’re still on the fence.
Do you love Jesus? Me too. This book is for you.
Do you think we Christians are weird? Me too. This book is for you.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book is for everyone. Everyone who has enough lettuce to support my shoe fetish. I’m kidding; that’s a Fergie lyric, not a reflection of my heart. I shouldn’t even know she exists, never mind be quoting her song in a book published by the people who also publish the Bible.
To make it even easier to jump into
Stuff Christians Like
, I pulled five essays out to get you started. Take a look at them, but if you’re standing in the Christian Inspiration section of the bookstore, please go read this by the magazines. Someone is going to witness to you if you stand by so many Bibles for too long.
Christians all over the world like the idea of Jesus coming back again, but only if they’ve lost their virginity first.
And if that’s you, if you’re a Christian and you’ve never been married and had sex, let me first say, congratulations. You, my friend, are a unicorn of purity. Second, let me assure you that your expectations of what your honeymoon night is going to be like are probably pretty dead-on. I know deep down there’s a part of you thinking, “I am going to be so mad at Jesus if he comes back before I get to have sex.”
That’s a fair thought; sex is pretty amazing.
Bear in mind that what you and I are saying is that the return of the Messiah is slightly less awesome than intercourse. (I used the word
there just to kick the guilt up a notch or two.) If that’s your expectation, if you are heralding your honeymoon night as outshining the return of Jesus in both magnificence and magnitude, I think you’re going to be just fine.
Because that’s pretty much exactly what it’s like.
Chances are, you’ll be one of those rare people who doesn’t need to grow and nurture a marital sexual relationship over sixty years or so. (Ugh…I just used the words “sexual relationship” and “sixty years” in the same sentence.) You’ll instantly and spontaneously know exactly how to do whatever it is that your husband or wife is all about. You’ll know all the right buttons to push and you’ll laugh, oh you’ll laugh at all those people who couldn’t figure out the whole thing on the night of their wedding, one of their most physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting days ever. Suddenly all those wry Christian jokes about not caring about the destination or the weather because you’ll never be leaving the hotel room on your honeymoon will make sense, the sun will probably set in a beautiful kaleido-scope of pinks and oranges, and birds in palm trees will tweet
out a Prince song. And two porpoises will continuously leap into the air, forming the shape of a heart, symbolizing two Christians becoming one.
That might happen.
I don’t remember things being exactly that way on my own honeymoon.
But that might happen for you.
Christians are very protective of their holidays. Just try to write a Christian a note referring to the Celebration of the Birth of their Savior as “Xmas,” and you’ll see what I mean. Or talk to their kids about Santa—chances are, by the time they can talk, they know that Santa’s not real and that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”
One year though, someone tried to test that theory by giving my family an “Elf on the Shelf.” If you’re not familiar with that, it’s essentially a small elf doll that comes with a book. The book tells you that you’re supposed to hide the elf each night during the holiday season and let your kids find it. It’s magic or a messenger of Santa or something. It was wildly popular a few years ago and is probably continuing to sell well.
But as I started to think about the whole “real meaning of Christmas” debate, and the “Is Santa bad?” discussion you’re almost required by law to have if you’re a Christian, I started to wonder about that elf. He was just sitting there, with a smug look on his face, perched on the fireplace mantel, hovering over our nativity scene on the hearth. Instead of the traditional Santa-vs.-Jesus discussion, I began to imagine what would happen if that elf ever ran into the characters from the nativity scene…
BOOTY, GOD, BOOTY
WISE MAN 1: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who are
ELF ON THE SHELF: Hi! I’m Elf on the Shelf.
WISE MAN 1: I can see that. It’s right there on your box. But what are you doing here?
ELF ON THE SHELF: I came to spread holiday cheer and tell people about the magic of Santa Claus.
WISE MAN 1: That sentence is wrong on so many levels, I don’t even know where to start. First of all, please help me understand what “holiday cheer” is. Is that some sort of glitter? Like pixie dust or giggle spray or other elf razzle dazzle?
WISE MAN 2: Slow down, myrrh man. No need to get sarcastic.
WISE MAN 1: You stay out of this, gold guy, and don’t call me myrrh man. It’s “M&M.” No one even knows what myrrh is. My name sounds like some sort of aquatic creature. I knew I should have brought the gold. Everybody loves you. My gift is judged as slightly better than paprika or cinnamon. Awesome.
WISE MAN 3: Myrrh man, Christmas is not about the gifts we give. It’s first and foremost about the gift we received: Jesus Christ.
WISE MAN 1: I know, I know, frankincense fella. It’s just that you don’t understand the pressure I’m under with the myrrh reputation. At least your gift sounds like Frankenstein and is easy to remember. When people say my gift, they don’t even know where to finish the word. They always just kind of trail off and say myrhhhhhhhh with, like, fourteen h’s. But this isn’t about me. This is about this punk elf.
ELF ON THE SHELF: Hi! I’m Elf on the Shelf.
WISE MAN 1: Here you go again. There’s no shelf in the nativity scene and therefore no elf. I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is, I’m wearing my traveling robes and won’t be able to tune you up myself. The bad news is, the shepherds are always up for a beat down.
SHEPHERD 1: What’s going on?
WISE MAN 1: This Peter Pan – looking doll over here is trying to distract us from the birth of Christ. He’s trying to steal some of baby Jesus’ thunder.
SHEPHERD 2: Oh, really? Not on
watch. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
ELF ON THE SHELF: “On like Donkey Kong”? That sounds violent. Can’t we all just giggle and watch my delightful movie
, starring Hollywood’s Will Ferrell and that rapscallion James Caan?
SHEPHERD 3: People overestimate how clean and well-behaved we shepherds were back in the day. We were like longshoremen. Think of us less as care-takers of sheep and more as pastoral hooligans. We live under the stars and wrestle bears for fun. David was a shepherd and he cut Goliath’s head off.
ELF ON THE SHELF: (Gulp.)
SHEPHERD 1: Don’t worry. We’re not going to do that to you. We
going to bounce you out of town like a super ball, though. Drummer boy, cue my theme song.
ELF ON THE SHELF: Wait! The drummer boy wasn’t at the birth of Christ either. Why isn’t he getting the bum rush?
SHEPHERD 1: Because Jesus is funky and loves a good beat. Plus, every superhero needs a theme song.
WISE MAN 1: You’re a superhero now? When did
happen? I must have missed that in the Bible.
SHEPHERD 1: Easy Myrrh-lin, wizard of questionable gifts. According to the book of Matthew, you guys didn’t even make it to the manger. And at least you have a name. I’m just lumped in as a “shepherd.” I have no identity. I had to create my own—hence the theme song.
WISE MAN 1: Good grief!
ELF ON THE SHELF: That’s from
Charlie Brown’s Christmas
SHEPHERD 1: You’re still here? Let’s do this thing. (Elf beat down commences.)
The archives don’t go back far enough, but I think that this is exactly the kind of idea that Billy Graham launched his ministry with when he was coming up. It makes sense too because Christians really like “Booty, God, Booty.”
I realized this while listening to my favorite radio station in Atlanta, V103, “The People’s Station.” It’s a hip-hop station that plays mostly rap and R&B. The best thing about V103 is their morning show. Every day at 6:30 a.m. when I’m driving to work, they have a segment called the “Inspirational Vitamin.” They read a Bible verse and play a gospel song or a clip by a minister from Atlanta. I honestly find it to be an uplifting experience overall. The thing I find most interesting, however, is how they wedge the Inspirational Vitamin into their normal programming.
What often happens is that at 6:25 a.m., right before they transition to the spiritual segment of the show, they play some sort of booty song. Let’s say, “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper).” Then they do the Bible verse at 6:30 a.m. And then they go right back to something like Lil’ Wayne “Lollipop” at 6:35 a.m. They essentially bookend the Inspirational Vitamin with booty, following a fairly simple formula: Booty, God, Booty.
It’s easy to laugh at how insincere that Inspirational Vitamin seems when it’s sandwiched between hardcore rap songs, but maybe God is listening to the broadcast of my day, and this is what he hears:
Saturday night, out on the town. God’s at home babysitting my stuff.
Sunday morning, back with God. We’re tight. We’re praying. We’re BFF.
Monday, back at work. God’s in the car, where I left my Bible.
It might not be as graphic or as neon, but the juxtaposition between who I am when I’m in “God mode” and who I am when I’m not is pretty substantial. Next time you transition between two parts of your day, ask yourself, “Did I just Booty, God, Booty?”
That’s my inspirational vitamin for today.
I want to be honest with you. If we ever meet and you corner me with a really difficult theological discussion that involves the word
or what exactly is going to happen during the end-times, I’m going to climb into my “faith like a child” escape pod and blast away from the conversation.
FRIEND: Jon, do you think the earth was created in six literal days or do days mean something different in God’s sense of time?
ME: Hmm, faith like a child.
FRIEND: Sure, sure, childlike faith, that’s great, but have you ever thought about the limits of God? He can’t lie, so does that mean he’s not all-powerful? Because he doesn’t possess the ability to lie?
ME: That’s a great question. I’m going to go with…“faith like a child.”
FRIEND: Right, but I think God gave us this wonderful mind to explore the deepest truths. Plus, the Bible says we’re supposed to put away childish things.
FRIEND: The insurance company with that annoying duck? What does that have to do with anything?
ME: A Faith like a Child. AFLAC.
FRIEND: That is horrible. You should be ashamed of yourself.
ME: You don’t have to be funny if you’ve got childlike faith. Name one funny five-year-old you’ve ever met. One told me a knock knock joke the other day that ended with, “Who’s there? A tornado broke Cinderella’s hair.”
FRIEND: Why do we hang out?
ME: Because if I become a famous Christian, I’ll take you as my guest to the Dove Awards.
Ninety percent of my conversations with friends end with those two lines.
Is that a bad thing? Do you disagree? What’s that you’re saying? You’ve got four different Hebrew phrases that challenge my childlike faith belief? It’s hard to hear you through this escape pod door. I’m sorry, you’re breaking up. Blast off!