Monday, November 03, 2003

An e-mail I sent to a pastor friend of mine: (Name witheld to protect the unwittingly famous)

Hey Friend,

Today in Religious Studies, we continued our discussion of Robert Wuthnow's book, After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s. Where we are right now, we were trying to contextualize the rise of evangelicalism in the 70s and 80s. You and other leaders know better than anybody how shallow segments of evangelicalism have become. Some people hijacked our way of speaking, of giving God His rightful place, and turned Christianity into an enormous self-help program, designed to provide people a "comfortable" place in culture. Personally, if I see a copy of Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People today, I'm gonna lose my mind. I don't want to be "effective," or fulfilled, or driven, I want to be a Christian. Please tell me that I'm not a statistic, that you and I are not just the products of a shallow cultural counterrevolution. How do we know we met the Word at all? It's not a crisis, I just want to know.


It seems the answer for the church is asking a lot of questions of each other. Is Jesus the means to a worldly end, like feeling good about yourself, or is He the focus of our spiritual devotion? Are we in it for our good, or God's glory? Yes, He is gracious to give us what is our greatest good--Himself. But we should be careful as Christians how we describe practical benefits from being a Christian. Often testimonies sound like Horatio Alger books. We need some serious and deep spiritual formation--revival of the truest sort--to avoid the practice of the Christian faith becoming a 12 step program with a cross attached. O Lord, let it be so for us.