Monday, February 4, 2013

Thing-ism, the Slow Death of the Gospel

Imagine this scene: You're peering into an elaborate, mysterious throne room, (ala Revelation, chapter four), and on the throne sits the world's most powerful, yet kindest, most benevolent ruler. Upon invitation, the room is filled with his subjects, citizens of his kingdom from all around. But the irony of the scene bites when suddenly you notice on closer inspection, that every one of the persons in the room seems apparently uninterested in the royal splendor of the good king. Rather, each person has in his hand an object of greater interest, some an iPhone, Facebooking, others Twittering away, others a gaming device of some kind, and each individual appears isolated, starry-eyed and glued to his own preoccupation, completely distracted and ambivalent to the honor of the privileged presence they are in.

Sadly similar is the scene when one gazes onto the broad landscape of Christianity in twenty-first century America. It seems the overwhelming majority of us who claim to know the King of Kings, are busily tapping away at our own unique version of that particular brand, stripe, make or model of the distraction of our choice. Yes, our distractions are always "about" Christ in some form or another, and we always claim that our allegiance to them offers some new slant, some new "take" on truth. And we are always convinced at the outset of the "rightness" of the new (or not so new) "thing" we have embraced. Being instructed by our "thing" we can tell you "about" the King in our midst, all the while betraying our true, inner boredom with Him just by the fact that we have made this "thing", whatever (or whomever) it is, our true emphasis rather than Jesus Himself. Often our passion for the thing we have adopted dominates (and hence, distracts) us from that simple, central, primitive passion for Him in the deepest core of our being.

Sometimes our Christian "things" are the spin offered by the latest faddish guru of truth, or an actual "thing" like accepted or acceptable dress codes, dietary codes, sabbath-keeping, home-churchism, KJV only-ism, church-growthism, evangelism-is-the-main-thingism, missionalism, emergent church-ism, etc, etc. It is always something that becomes the "badge" and then the focus, then the test, all the while, the disengaging distraction. We then often (as T. Austin-Sparks used to remark), become slaves of the system, rather than servants of the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul was thrust into the grip of King-consciousness and Christ-centered life in a way that took his breath away. He considered the things of Jesus to be "unsearchable riches". One definitely gets the impression that no technology, nor even the latest fad on the social networking sites could ever have trumped his profound, singleminded infatuation with the fact that Jesus was real, and that he was REALLY in eternal relations with Him. In the presence of the King, Paul was all ears, all eyes, eternally enraptured with the profound riches which were Jesus.

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