Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lord, help me be right

I’ve come to believe that it is more important for most human beings to feel right than it is to do good. To me, the overwhelming body of words we have from Jesus centers on loving well. He summed it up for us by telling us to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, You’d think that should do us for a while, but is love really the first thing you think of when someone identifies themselves with Jesus? Part of the package we have been blessed with since entering this world is an inferiority complex. As babies we each had lots of needs that demanded attention and most of us have never grown out of that self centeredness. Good marketers understand this by blatantly exploiting your felt need for everything to be all about you. Google the phrase and find a hair salon and a bra named for it. There’s even a PR agency devoted to being all about you. Brilliant. The flavor of Christianity I was nurtured in seems to have the same bent. Church was built around felt needs, never really designed to go much further past that. Oh sure there was the focus on discipleship and of self discipline, but even still self seemed to be the benefactor and it left me with a feeling of superiority and not one of true sacrifice and service. Having a daily time of reading the Bible and praying made me feel better, but I’m not sure how it made the people around my life feel. You would have to ask them. Which is why I question the role of teaching and preaching in the Church As We Know It, of which I played a bit part. We say it’s to bring about life change, but does it really help me to take Jesus’ words about loving well seriously? I don’t believe the Church of the Future will rely on the central figure of the pastor as Teacher. If you haven’t noticed, we are not in want for teaching resources today. The Internet makes everyone and their dog’s sermon available. Why do I need to spend so much energy getting all my people in my building to hear me speak? Unless of course it really is all about me?


Maria said...

The nice thing about teaching as the focus of ministry is that both the teacher and the student get to stay in control. The teacher masters the material to be presented, and so does the student. That "self" we've been building keeps getting smarter and more competent. On the other hand, try actually loving someone -- your kid or a homeless person, take your pick -- and you're immediately out of control and confronted by your inadequacies, selfishness, etc.

stepchild said...

I tend to be pretty apathetic in my self-righteousness. I don't really need to be holier/smarter/more right than everyone, just someone. Someone that I can ridicule and pity and condemn for not being holy/smart/right enough.

Sad isn't it?

Every once in a while I accidentally visit one of those website/blogs maintained by the angry, "defenders of the truth" who endlessly mock Heretics and Liberals.

I'm not better than them, but I don't want to be them, either.

I think you're right about the end of Preaching. It can't come soon enough, I say. Honest dialog has done more to build my faith than preaching ever did.

Great post.