July 27, 2016
We live in interesting times. Few would dispute it. From political turmoil to terrorism, culture appears to be crashing all around us. Not surprising that people are fearful and skeptical. The church, likewise, is facing interesting times.
Not that the church has ever had it easy, especially in climates where the level of antagonism against her is high, but the challenges of today are nevertheless real.
Of all the cultural challenges, I believe the greatest hurdles facing the church can be reduced to two basic notions. They surface time and again in one form or another, and are actually fed and encouraged by the culture at large, which appears to give these notions a sense of credibility.
What's more, is these two have always existed since the church was birthed. They've mutated and taken on various forms, depending on the cultural dragon they ride upon, but they lie underneath every attack and criticism the church has ever faced.
Theology is not for the feint of heart, but neither should it be left to whimsical meanderings. Theology is serious stuff. Its life-giving stuff and could be the difference between a life of joy, promise, and hope or a life lived in hopeless desperation. I like what J.I. Packer wrote in Knowing God.
The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were , with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.
I've often wondered how many people have rejected a God they never really understood or knew, because they formulated a picture of him based on a caricature. Its a little like imaging the Disney version of the devil - red leotards, a tail, and some horns.
Most that I've interacted with appear to be okay living in ignorance. The excuses are many. Mostly revolving around the confusion that exists regarding spirituality that drives them to see it as unknowable anyway. I just see that as a cop out personally. If there is one task critical for the church its to faithfully reveal the character and nature of God. He may be incomprehensible but we do have Jesus, the incarnate God, to get us as close as possible.
The second one is more insidious than the first. If ignorance is a willful uncaring of eternal matters, arrogance is a willful rejection of revelation. I actually think that arrogance overshadows ignorance by a large margin. It's amazing to me how much we believe we know, think, understand, live, die, create, imagine, feel, or decide better than God.
Our morality is better, our values are better, and our understanding of love is better. We mock God in ways too numerous to mention while elevating ourselves above him. God becomes answerable to us. I read recently that the two biggest areas that the church is losing culturally is in morality and tolerance. Think about that for a minute. I know I'm ranting a bit here, but I've seen these two play out recently in disheartening ways.
The lack of humility when it comes to matters of faith is staggering to say the least. Humility that results in a heart of repentance before God is a tough sell. I understand that ignorance and arrogance are often at work simultaneously. And given the present climate are given credence far beyond what they deserve. It does remind me though of something Jesus said in John 8:31-32.
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32 NLT)
As long as ignorance and arrogance control the mindsets of people, freedom will always remain elusive.
photo credit: Malcolm Slaney 2017-05-04-16-01-25-2.jpg via photopin (license)
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