Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Twisting Our Heads Around
Mine was a test of endurance. The pew was hard; the clock, slow; the mind was wandering, and the scene, all too familiar. It was ten minutes after eleven on yet another Sunday morning. I was right where I had been told since my earliest years I was supposed to be at that time of the week. And, for the life of me, I could not figure out why.I agree with Dr. Crosby whole-heartedly about what Christianity is, but why are we throwing out the religion bath water when it is the only thing - I repeat ONLY THING - that made sure that he would even know about Jesus these two millennia later. Warped, wrong, misguided though it may be, it is "religion" that has kept the gospel alive for centuries. Protestants the rail so against "Papists" for get that were it not for the Catholics there would have been nothing for them to protest against. American Evangelicals that claims the mainlines are "devoid of life and spirit" for et that it was those mainlines that founded America.
To me, at this point my religion was just a place to go, but where was the purpose? What was the reason? Was it for guilt's sake or God's sake? Was church just a place I was supposed to clock in and out of—to keep God happy—or was there something more? My religion had served up lots of words to me over the years, but it had left me wondering and wandering still. In a world full of life, color and variety, it often felt as bland and tasteless as the factory-processed wafers on the communion table. I was already worn out on religion.
Make no mistake! Religion (in the sense of the term we are using here) is all about man trying to work his way up to God, but Christianity is something completely different. As strange as it may sound to some, I truly believe that the Christian faith is not just another religion. In its purest form - it is a relationship. The Christian message is about God working his way down to man, through Jesus Christ, his life, death and resurrection. It is all about God entering our world desperately seeking to restore a relationship with his creation that was tragically lost (or, better said, forfeited) in the Garden of Eden. Ultimately, the Christian faith is more than a code of conduct, more than a bunch of rules; it is a rescue mission with you and me as the focal points of the rescue. It is not about a Big Judge barking out orders; rather, it is about a Great Lover chasing after our souls and our affections. There's a difference. In its essence, the Gospel is not about more Rules to keep, but more Relationship with God to enjoy. Not that we have to pray so much as the fact that we get to.
Everybody thinks they have the gospel figured out - me included. The problem is, that's not the issue. Crosby is right - it's about Jesus - but when we whine and complain, when we petulantly decry that which allowed us to hear about Jesus to begin with we reveal that we are as vain and self-absorbed as those we seek to condemn.
Somehow, somewhere, I'd like us all to get to the point that we understand that the most important lesson in all of Christianity is submission - then and only then can we really serve. And only in service is criticism useful.