What is the key to successful Christian living?
Do we truly live the life?
Are we Christians truly living the life? Do we honestly live in The Life? Have we created a true alternative to the Kingdom of the World or are we taking the safe route of moulding our expressions of the Kingdom of God into a facsimile of the World in which we live, work and play?
We are children of the King of Heaven, surely we can offer more than orchestrated and predictable Sunday mornings, worship entertainment events and a media that is a pale shadow of the World’s offerings. To that latter point we can plead poverty and admit that we don’t have the big budgets of the BBC or Warner Bros but then surely (and don’t think that those in the World are not thinking this too) if we claim to have God on our side, how come He don’t give us the dosh? This view is exacerbated by the endless on-air pleas for money by Christian media ministries. Don’t we ever consider the possibility that God doesn’t bless us financially in the media because we are not meant to be competing with the World?
Then what are we meant to be doing? Here are a few ideas for you to mull over:
Do we need to hire out football grounds and such arenas for our evangelism, prayer and worship events? What are we trying to achieve? Is this the best way of using our money? Billy Graham operated in the days before the internet and Christian TV. Any message proclaimed by an evangelist, however good he is, could be just as effective within a free YouTube video, watched in a cosy front-room with earnest Christians to chat to afterwards over a cup of tea.
Instead, you are asking people to look for God in a “Christianised” space, prolonging the unconscious untruth of that is where God lives. This is what Christendom did to control the populace from the 4th Century onwards when it forced us all into physical buildings! Back to today, once people have travelled to the venue, schlepped themselves into the hard seat and (for them) endured the ‘warm ups’, all you can offer them that is different from the comfort of their armchair is an air of expectancy and emotionalism, that can be a very false atmosphere that won’t travel home with them. Surely, in the final analysis, it can be seen as much an ‘entertainment’ as a pop concert or football match and any ‘salvation decision’ could actually be left behind at the ‘altar’ when they return to their ordinary lives.
We need to transition away from the World’s worship of ‘bigness’ and realise that the Holy Spirit has always worked best in a one-to-one situation or in small groups. Any analysis of true historical revivals, such as the Welsh and Hebridean events, will show that this was not instigated by 50,000 people praying in Wembley stadium, but rather a couple of old saints on their knees day after day in their prayer closet. And, while I’m in ‘rant-mode’, the Holy Spirit doesn’t need to be energised by an hour of mindless repetitive rock music and passionate chanting in order to ‘do his stuff’ when summoned by the worship leader / prophet / revivalist at some of the ‘revival meetings’ I’ve seen broadcast over Christian TV.
Where is true Christian culture? I believe we are selling out our youth by offering them just a reflection of the Greek World that undergirds the Kingdom of the World. For instance, I have watched televised youth events, run by the most switched-on and well-meaning youth ministries, where most of the teaching follows the classroom or lecture-hall model, of one-way communication. We can do things differently if we follow the Hebraic model and, in future articles, I will show you what we did in an outdoor pursuit centre in Wales with 150 teenagers. It is all about content not delivery, otherwise how could a group of “old fogeys” attract the attention of worldly-wise youths unless they were offering something their youth leaders hadn’t thought of?!
The Greek worldview pervades everything, both in work and play. The world of entertainment has created a generation of couch potatoes and ‘finger warriors’. No need to interact with the physical world if fantasy landscapes and dramas can be beamed into your living room or onto your smartphone, where your only engagement is the speed of your fingers and the willingness to be sucked into an alternative universe that has absolutely no use or relevance to your real life.
It has given us clergy and laity, the State Church, worship times, the church service, church as building, celebrity Christianity, holy wars, infant baptism, transubstantiation, the prosperity gospel, the word of faith movement, quiche, Christian cults, the crusades, the inquisition, hierarchical denominations, carnal Christianity, replacement theology, Christian anti-Semitism and lots more. For more on this you may want to dip into my book, the Bishop’s New Clothes.
And so ends our tour of what engages most Christian thought and action in the Western World in the 21st Century. Again I ask, are we livin’ the life or, more importantly, living in The Life? The way that we interact with the World around us, whether we are a Christian are not, is still governed by the Greek worldview that was introduced to an earlier civilisation but yet has managed to leap from empire to empire, rather like a plague rat between merchant ships. The only real resistance it has met in the West was that provided by the Jesus (Hebraic) mindset, albeit briefly, thanks to capitulation by the early Church Fathers and those in the mainstream Church who followed them right up to the modern day.
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp