Sunday Services at 10:00am
1155 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield
During January and February, I will be using this space to interact with the ideas put forward in David Zahl’s book Seculosity: How career, parenting, technology, food, politics, and romance became our new religion and what to do about it. Chapter 9 is entitled “The seculosity of Jesusland.”
I have a love/hate relationship with a lot of church advice and church growth gurus out there. One particular strategy that I am torn on is the idea of giving people “next steps” at the end of a sermon. This often takes the form of a bulletin insert with a sermon outline that ends with a few “next steps,” such as “I will memorize Romans 8:38,” “I will pray for my next door neighbors,” or “I will tithe next month.” What I love about this approach is the practical call to discipleship and transformation, in that it challenges us to not just be hearers of the word but doers of the word. But what bothers me about this approach is how easily it can turn the faith into a religion of law: “do more and you will be accepted and feel like a better Christian,” instead of “truly realize how you have been accepted in Christ despite what you have NOT done, despite your failures as a Christian, and you will find yourself doing more in response to His love and grace.”
The last chapter of Zahl’s book focuses on the church, and points out how often the church can communicate the message, whether overtly or subtly, that your self-worth is based on your performance. As long as you love well enough, serve enough, are doing a good enough job as a spouse or parent or child, then you are enough. Instead of delivering grace, the church becomes just another place delivering anxiety and despair, as we are left feeling like we will never measure up to what we are supposed to be. If we are not careful, sanctification and transformation become a crushing burden instead of a liberating joy.
Even the sharing of testimonies, if not done properly, can add more of a burden. When Christian brothers and sisters share only stories of victory, of God’s healing and deliverance in their lives, it may inspire some, but it can also crush those who have cried out for victory and healing, only to receive more suffering. The life of faith is not always a life of victory, healing, and deliverance; it is more often the story of hope, peace, and endurance in the midst of pain and suffering.
The good news is that in Christ, we are enough. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul delivers the groundbreaking message that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And in Romans 8:1-2, Paul declares “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Our journey of faith begins with the declaration that we are enough, we are loved, we are so valuable to God that He sent His only Son to die in our place. It is this amazing grace – this undeserved gift given by an unobligated giver – that transforms our heart, so that we can live for God with a trusting and grateful heart, knowing that He loves us and has our best interest in mind. With the approval and empowering love of our God, we no longer need to look to anything in this world to give us our self-worth. Our “enoughness” has already been established once and for all in Christ.
Comments for this post have been disabled