Right now I’m reading though Miracles by C.S. Lewis. I’m trying to read more as a goal for 2012, and in reading more I would like to read a wider variety of authors. I have read quite a bit of Lewis’ stuff in the past, but it has been a while…and my brain can tell.
For being such a prolific and popular author and apologetic, I wonder how well-accepted his material would be if he were just beginning his writing career today. We’ve become so accustomed to the happy-go-lucky, feel-good material from the likes of Lucado and Osteen that we seem to have lost our desire and ability to think deeply and critically about the Faith.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some authors out there who do present their material in a concise, simple way while still challenging their readers to think for themselves. But I can’t help wonder what Lewis’ reaction would be to the spiritual and intellectual depth of the current Western American church?
Walt Mueller, a leading youth ministry guru, recently posted about a new book debuting soon. It’s called The Juveniliazation of American Christianity by Thomas Bergler. I would encourage you to read the article and watch the interview at the end. His premise is basically that we are not pushing ourselves to pursue spiritual maturity, and the church is suffering because of it.
Since when did Christianity become something that must be palatable for the masses? Why do we think that we must dumb down or simplify the message of Christ so that everyone can get it?
Last time I looked, it’s not man’s job to bring understanding. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit (John 16:12-15).
Jesus didn’t grade his students on a curve. He didn’t give extra credit. He didn’t cut them any slack just because they were “unschooled, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13). In fact, Jesus held his followers to a higher standard than even the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law (Matthew 5:20).
But check out this interaction between Jesus and his disciples in Mark 8:14-21
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them.“Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
I’m afraid that Jesus would have very similar things to say to us today. The disciples had been with Jesus for probably over a year at this point, if not longer. They had traveled with him, ate with him, lodged with him, preached with him, and they had witnessed incredible miracles. Yet they still had no understanding.
We’ve had the words and accounts of Jesus and Jesus’ followers for the last 2000 years. And we still haven’t figured it out either? We have the entire story readily accessible in hundreds of different languages. Scholars and theologians have been pouring over the words in red for centuries. Thousands of preachers across the world proclaim the message Sunday after Sunday. And yet Jesus’ words still ring louder than ever: “Do you still not understand?”
I know this post sounds a bit harsh. I hope I haven’t crossed the line into arrogance or self-exaltation. That is not my intention, especially since I am speaking to myself as well. I’ve got to hold myself to a higher standard.
My point (and Jesus’ point) is that we need to stop making excuses. It’s time to open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts. I don’t want Jesus to say these words to me. Furthermore, I don’t want Jesus to say these words to anyone under my care.
I pray that God will give all of us Christians eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand.