I THINK WE MAY HAVE PASSED THE TIPPING POINT. At best, we’re willing to tolerate God, but not hungry enough to dig into Him. We seem more enthusiastic about chicken and ribs at a summer barbecue. Even a casual look at America reveals this truth. If you’re a Christian, you know it’s true because it’s most likely true in your own life. It’s something I wrestle with as well. A great many of us seem to be rowing the same boat in the same direction, and it’s killing our nation. It’s time to stop the boat, get out, and seek another means of transportation. Christians, we’re in a very dangerous place. It’s time to head for safe harbor.
“When Moses watched the burning bush, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t thinking, ‘Dark Roast or House Blend?'”
I think God may be giving us what we want. It’s not what we need, but the reason we don’t have what we need is because we’ve convinced ourselves that our wants are more important than our needs.
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We are the ones who are largely to blame for the absence of God in our society, and have the nerve to express our anger at the world when the anger should be focused upon our own luke-warmth. Yes, we talk about God and we let everyone know the moment we’re against something. But are we really for God? Need I suggest the answer that you already find resonating within?
COULD YOU PLEASE PASS ME SOME JESUS?
It should be obvious that the American brand of “Christianity” and “church” is so heavily syncretized that it’s nothing at all like the distilled faith found in the Bible. So many of us are so adept at syncretism, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice, the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms,” that we don’t realize “syncretism” is a synonym for the nuclear bomb mother of all sins: idolatry.
We’re famished, but we keep feasting on anything other than Jesus. We love our smart phones, our computers, our television programs, our food, cars, houses, clothes, toys, sports, schedules and our reputations. It all amounts to our love for comfort and convenience more than the power and presence of God. Our love for God. And we’re okay with it. This is our problem.
All we’ve done is sprinkle a little Jesus onto the rest of our lives, a dose of spiritual, feel-good, hocus pocus in our efforts to get the best life we possibly can. We love the idea of Jesus dying for us – but hate the idea of dying to ourselves so that the life of Christ can flow through us. In the end, we aren’t at all living our best life possible. We’re settling for a mere shadow of what could be.
THE SIXTY-MINUTE MYTH
This week, I learned of yet another large church elsewhere in America that guarantees their services will be only sixty minutes long, that they offer contemporary music and a “fun” time for children. Brothers and sisters, are these really the things for which a churches should be known? Are we branding and marketing our music and lengths of services, primarily dispensing donuts and coffee, or don’t we have Someone far better to offer? When Moses watched the burning bush, I’m fairly certain he wasn’t thinking “Dark Roast or House Blend?” Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with great music (I play guitar), fun (I love to laugh) and a rich cup of coffee — unless we are more excited about those things than we are Jesus.
“. . . at the end of our days, we’re not willing to adjust our lives to the movement of God the way biblical characters did. No wonder we don’t have what they had.”
If a church is to be engaged in any “business” at all, it is to be engaged in the business of giving people the opportunity to meet the Maker of their Souls, the Creator of the Universe, the One Whose love is so potent it led Him to be beaten, spit on, and spiked to a tree. We’ve forgotten that the greatest need of the day is to give people the chance to be blown away by God so He becomes the all-consuming love of their life.
Believe me, as a pastor, I get it. If we don’t give the people what they “want,” we will never get around to giving them what they need. And what they need (what we all need) is Jesus, unfiltered. 2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” But we want to keep Jesus veiled, as if unveiling Him will drive people away. Our insanity is ironic, systemic and pathetic. I’m not saying that in a condescending way. I’m saying it with tears that don’t do justice to the way God must feel about our apologizing for His Son. God put His Son on display for all to see, but we think the better approach is to introduce Him in increments? Who is playing God in the American Church equation?
OUR SOLUTION IS OUR PROBLEM
Our problem is our solution. We Christian leaders aren’t getting around to giving people environments where they can encounter Christ head-on in life-changing ways that will leave our syncretistic sweet tooth in the dust. Our approach isn’t helping people. It’s hindering them, significantly. If you’re a church leader, be careful you’re not just giving people what they want. Give them what they need, and what people need most these days is a soaring ascent into the presence of God.
If you’re just a Christian, and not a church leader, help your leaders break the cycle we all need broken. Help your church, and all her ministries, become environments where God can move with increasing freedom, power and purpose. Stop settling for mere donuts, coffee, hip music and fun activities. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with those things, they are, alone, no substitute for the presence of God.
FILLING UP ON GOD
We love the stories about Moses and the burning bush, David and Goliath, and all the other accounts where God showed up and saved the day – but at the end of our days, we’re not willing to adjust our lives to the movement of God the way biblical characters did. We want God to move in our timetable, at the flick of a switch we get to pull, having forgotten that God transcends time and our methods. And we wonder why we don’t experience the joy, deep sense of awe, and deeper movement of God like the people in the Bible? No wonder we don’t have what they had.
God is a great initiator, but eventually He needs us to respond. I think that time has come.
We can have as much God as we are willing to tolerate. I think it’s time we stop tolerating Him and begin calling out to Him to completely interrupt us so that we learn, once again (or perhaps for the very first time) what it is to love Him with all our heart, mind, strength and soul – and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
It’s time our lives underwent an extreme make-over that dealt syncretism a death blow. That make-over must be revisited moment by moment, day-by-day, on a personal level, to ensure it does not again creep in and take away holy ground once given to God. Then, when we come together in our churches, we may very well find the God who created the Church in the first place.
NEVER MIND OTHER PEOPLE. IS YOUR HUNGER FOR GOD WORTH A FOLLOW?
ABOUT ME: Most of the lessons I’ve learned in life I’ve learned through failure. I typically publish my blogs Tuesday through Friday, here and on Facebook. We welcome and read comments from readers just like you because they help us (and others) think and grow. Don’t be shy. Chime in.
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