transcript from the REThinker Video Blog:
Today, I want to talk about the current state of the institutional church in regard to its current position in our society today. You know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or George Barna to recognize that in many issues, both socially and morally, Christianity is losing considerable ground. Now I’ve talked to friends about this and they’ve said, “yeah, but look at all the Christian films, like Noah and Son of God and the Bible series, aren’t we starting to make a difference?” We have to see this strategically, and here is how I’m going to say it. The idea or history of Christianity may be on the rise, but the influence of Christianity in our culture today is diminishing. Scripturally speaking, we are called to be like Joseph and Daniel, men or women who influence – NOT DOMINATE – the leaders in government, and culture, and art and commerce. And if we’re honest, we are really losing that mission.
But our loss of cultural influence may not be a bad thing. Because in many cases, the church needs to rethink some of its stances, not from the standpoint of WHAT it believes, but WHY it believes it. And if the church can start answering the why questions, I believe we can once again become the cultural influencers that God has always intended His people to be.
Now, what do I mean by the Why Questions? What is that significance? You know when it comes to what Christians believe and the stances that we take, we often validate our responses with a bumper sticker that I remember from when I was a kid, and it said, “God said it, I believe it, and that Settles it. And while we consider this statement to be a place of faith, in essence it actually shuts the conversation down.
Let me tell you what I mean. Suppose you have a 3 or four year old daughter. And one day as you are cooking some pasta on the stove, she ventures into the kitchen and reaches out to grab the pot. In that moment, you reach down, grab her hand firmly and say “do not touch the stove!” Now, you’ve given her a rather dogmatic command, I mean it started with “Do Not!” right? But is your intent to restrict her from the kitchen and the stove because of your selfish and self centered desires. No, it’s the exact opposite, you don’t want her to get burned, you aren’t thinking about yourself, you are thinking about your daughter, or better yet you are thinking about your daughter’s protection.
So hopefully, around the age of 9 or 10, you are going to take her into the kitchen and show her how to carefully use the stove, and reveal to her the joys of cooking. Maybe, she becomes a chef someday, who knows, but your dogmatic “do not touch” command was never for her restriction.
Now, imagine NEVER having that talk with your daughter. At age forty, she’s still afraid to go near the stove because all her life, “daddy at the age of three told her not to.” And for four decades, she obeyed you out of love for her dad.
Are you a good father? No, quite frankly you’re an idiot.
But sadly, I think that in many cases that’s is how the church sees God’s commands and words. I don’t need to know why, I simply need to know that “Daddy said not too.” And I don’t really know if God really truly values this level of non-reasoning.
Consider this passage in Isaiah:
“Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”
Isa. 29:13 NASB (emphasis mine)
Let’s look at that for second, “They remove their hearts far from me.” What if God is saying that the remove their hearts far from MY heart. My purpose, my intention, my reasoning behind why I said, “Do not?”
You know a number of years ago I was at a church, and the church leaders felt called by God to spend a year having the congregation memorize psalm 119. Now if you don’t know, psalms 119 is the longest book in the Bible, and it’s an acrostic of all 26 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Bottom line, if it’s that long, and uses all the letters from God’s language, it’s probably pretty important. Well if you read it, you find that it’s all about laws, and statutes and ordinances and precepts. “How can a young man keep his way pure, by living according to your law.” “I meditate nightly on your statues.” 0ver and over again. And so I started memorizing, and I’ve got to be honest, about a month in, I got tired of memorizing words like statutes and law, and precepts.
So I went to God and I said, “Okay I get it, enough about the law and statutes, David loved your law!” And in that moment, I felt like God said, “you don’t get it. It’s not that David just loved my law, it’s that I showed David the reasoning BEHIND my law, and when he discovered that, he understand me and my commands in an entirely different way.” And when he saw that, he became a man after my own heart.
Let’s go back to that Isaiah scripture again: “They remove their HEARTS far from me, and their reverence for me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
Honestly guys, we have the answers to the world’s problems and issues and struggles. God’s WANTS us to share HIS heart with the world. But to understand his heart, is to understand the WHY’s behind his commands. And if you watch these videos you’re going to deeper unpack many of those WHYs, but let me say this. Thy WHYs of God’s commands come down to the liberation, protection and powerful intention of God’s greatest creation: humanity. And once we begin to shift the focus of God’s heart back onto peoples bodies, and minds and families and futures, as well as their souls, we’ll begin to not only take our place as influencers and culture shapers, but I believe we’ll reconnect to heart of God.
We’ve got to stop being like the forty year old, saying, “don’t touch the stove, because my Daddy said not to.” It’s not going to work in our society today. And here’s the point, the world may not want to adhere to God’s statements, but they’re desperate to healed from the OUTCOMES of their actions. That statement is unpacked in a majority of our video blogs.
For now, we have to begin to search out why he said it, and open ourselves up to the joys that follow – because that’s what God always intended.
So how do we do that? We have to learn to transplant scripture from theology and into our modern day world, infusing the words of God with the world of God. Because the facts are all around us. You know my favorite singer songwriter Jack Johnson wrote:
“There’s puzzle pieces in the ground, but nobody seems to be digging.”
As Christians in this culture, we need to start digging, we need to start recognizing and understanding not just THAT God said something, but WHY he said it. And that “why” will be serving you coffee this morning, or working in the cubicle next to you, or busily pushing past you on the street. It doesn’t matter what they believe, what actions they commit, or what political stances they may have, they are part of the answer to the WHY questions.
Thanks for taking the time to engage this blog, and remember to LIVE INSPIRED!