If you have ever cut your grass the old fashioned way, you know that the blades in those old manual lawnmowers can get blunt. You sharpen the blades and place them back. But would you ever attempt to cut your grass with, let’s say…scissors? It might work, but….might take a while. Or would you go out there with a fork? Dig at the grass? Try to make it work.
There are reasonable used for tools. These are not good examples.
Why am I saying this?
I believe today that methods (or tools) have been brought into the Church which may work temporarily, but are poor substitutes for the real thing. Whatever we choose to use over and over again, because it “works” is in danger of becoming one of these tired tools. Coupled with a world in which immediate works better for most and anything other than instant is unacceptable, sometimes we want to see results. Results don’t always equal change. God doesn’t work the way we expect. From life experience, God is in it for the long game.
We hear reports in the Pentecostal experience of people we know losing faith in people and in God. We hear that the Gospel is not relevant enough, that it is too much of a sacrifice for most people. This has always been true for this generation and previous ones. I recall a movement some years ago where the church sought to make Christianity palatable to the common man. Amazing how we forget that Jesus was despised of men, forsaken by most, and crucified for what He espoused. Another very interesting aspect of this current era is the reawakening of people interested in the “old gods,” for example Iceland is officially worshiping Norse Gods as an organized religion. When you read further into the article, even though Iceland converted to Christianity about 1,000 years ago, there is a faction which appreciates what the old gods can bring.
Which brings me to the blurring of lines between the Christian and the other gods. I hear and see far more “spiritual” language today than ever. Having attended secular schools for my undergrad college experience, I had friends who would participate in pagan rituals before they would ever experience God, so their talk of “atmosphere shifting” and other spiritualist philosophies was common. However, I hear the same vernacular in the Church at times, and I wonder….where did this come from? And do we trace our theology to verifiable biblical passages or theologians? Or do we just adopt the practices because people are familiar with the terminology and it sounds cool? I would hope someone would take this and run with an answer, because we have become irrelevant to the world in reference to a viable option for belief.
We would hope that miracles could convince the wavering person—and perhaps there is something in seeing God’s power in a real life encounter. But again, God doesn’t work the way we expect. What may work in our sermons one week may not “work” the next. Are we less effective? No. We are only not effective when we rely on method and not on God’s Spirit to bring people in. People need to know we care, but also, what we believe. In this day, it will be difficult to take up the cross because the cross is a symbol of what people are beginning to hate: a boundary and a guide — a symbol of sacrifice and sacrificing self-interest to do what God desires. Yes, there are an abundance of things to argue about with the way faith is applied to the modern world, but simply, anyone who denies Christ is Messiah: that person is not to be believed. It’s very simple and complex at the same time: just the way God likes to work, calling our names with love.