Wanting The Lions Back
A few days ago, I was visiting a certain blog which I usually find enjoyable, and found a link to this pastor's blog on it, with the idea that he had some interesting thoughts. After reading it, I agreed, and came to read some more of it, like this entry linked to above.
Actually, I'm a little leary of the one I've linked to. I'm not certain what to make of it. There are some good points and good thoughts in it, but just as well there are some things I can't help but question, and I do so with something like caution.
I can understand the frustration voiced in the blog entry. There are times when I wished the church had something more (or maybe less), maybe some like a bit more backbone, less spit and polish. If, for example, I'm thinking about music, I wish the songs were less shallow and sanitized and like a faux-pop sound, and more rootsy or bluesy with echoes of frustration and the difficulties of the everyday and how hard it is to fight to keep faith. If it's preaching, I wish it were less about the hollering and hooting and the time and the Powerpoints, and more about how we can be faithful.
I do get frustrated with prosperity gospel preachers, emergents who seem to care more relevance then for truth, those who want to have the biggest church with the most gadgets. I've grown weary of the endless repetitions of the same p&w choruses over and over, of worship leaders telling me to leave my troubles somewhere else as I sing.
I wish preachers would quit trying to be cheerleaders. Most of them would be frightful in modern cheerleading outfits, anyway.
I know things are probably much more complicated then I can ever hope to realize, and most of my criticisms need to be balanced with the assumption that what decisions a pastor must make are such as I have never had to make. I am expression frustration and maybe giving suggestions, that is all.
But in saying this, am I necessarily agreeing with the conclusions these young men in the blog entry seemed to come to?
I can agree about the Christ-like reality, the cause, and the action, at least as I understand them. The difficulty and the cost, I think has more to do with each person then on any outside circumstances. In fact, I would say that the reality, the cause, and the action are like that, too. It is possible to have those things, if one is dedicated enough.
My problem may be more with them wanting the lions, or, less figuratively, the persecution.
I suspect that these young men have a slightly romanticized idea of persecution. I suspect they think they are stronger then they really are. I suspect that a taste of real pain for their faith, by real I mean physical, would be a shock to them.
That isn't to say they wouldn't stay faithful, or at least some of them. Perhaps many or most of them would. But that's not the point, either.
The point, for me, is that they are called to face a kind of persecution here, in their current society. They are called to face the insults of those who will say they and their message are not "relevant", that their time has passed, that they are not "on the cutting edge", that their message of sin and repentence is so last century and really "it's not working" (ht bull horn guy).
The truth is as C.S. Lewis said it, and He is only echoing the words of Christ and other words from the Bible, that this whole world is hostile territory. We live each day in the enemy's lands, and so should not be surprised if his people should not wish to tolerate us. If the persecutions take the forms of lions and prisons in some places, in our place they take the form of ignorings and marginalizings, insults and ridicules and superior attitudes.
Face off against some things like that, and maybe one will simply beg for the lions. At least with lions, it's all straight-forward. With such as we face here, one may as well be fighting the fog.
We do well to respect the martyrs and the persecuted. I have known missionaries, was even one myself, who go to other cultures, and some even into places blatantly hostile to their message. They are in need of our prays and support and when possible our participation.
That is one thing few of the voices who cause these men frustrations can really give. While some give their lives, both in years of life and in deaths, for the cause of giving the Gospel to those who may have heard little if anything about it, others are all too ready to compromise and try to say that we need to be less concerned with converting then with other things like saving the earth or helping the poor. And while those missionaries work in secret and suffer and die quietly, these others write books and have influence because their message if popular.
Do not look for persecutions. If you live godly, it will find you. Be faithful in the situation you are in.