Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Culture of Ignorance

A friend told the story of jogging past a Roman Catholic Church which had a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The statue features Jesus holding his chest, with the wounds of his hands visible, and in the center is the image of His heart with a cross outlined upon it. Another jogger was taking his time with his young son in tow. As they passed the statue, the boy asked his father, "Why is that man holding his chest?" "I dunno," said his dad. And on they went...

That man. Is it that difficult to identity that man as Jesus? While the history of the Sacred Heart of Jesus may not be easily rehearsed by most people (even Roman Catholics), is it so hard to unpack some of the meaning of the Jesus who stands with His heart exposed and the cross upon that heart?

Yes, it is. We live in a post-Christian era. Around us the majority of people did not attend Sunday school, were not baptized as infants, and have never attended a religious service more than for funerals, weddings, or the occasional Christmas or Easter. We live in a time when there is a huge hole in the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done, what the Bible is, and what it says.

More than that, we have come to promote this culture of ignorance. People who are in the know about such things are often viewed with suspicion as religious zealots, extremists. We as a nation like getting our religion in bits and pieces, unconnected truths and facts, unsupported opinions, and, best of all, with no one to tell us we are wrong.

Christians, even those who go to Church every Sunday, often contribute to this culture of ignorance. How? Think of all the children in Church who do not attend Sunday school... or the children who attend Sunday school but do not go through catechism... or the adults who are in Church but not in Bible study... or the church-goers whose contributions to religious conversations range from "I dunno" to "Oh, I don't believe that either" to "Well, I guess what is really important is living a good life and getting along..."

Satan may not be the undoing of the Church but it just could be that God's biggest problem are with Christians, who believe truth to be relative and changeable... who believe that you can be a good Christian without knowing all that much about the faith or Scripture... who believe that saved by grace and saved by your good works are really not so different... who give in to their children and don't "make" them go to Sunday school or catechism.

Could it be that people pass the cross every day and "dunno" what it means? Could it be that we as Christians are not so sure what it all means? Could it be that both are content with their limited knowledge or half-truths about Jesus Christ?

You do not need to save the world. Jesus has already done that. But in order to fully benefit from all that Jesus has done, God asks us to know this Gospel truth, to believe in this Gospel under the prompting of the Spirit, and to be willing to daily live as the student of the Word which proclaims this Gospel. And one more thing. To share this good news with others.

I cannot make the world so that everyone will pass by the cross heeding its message of hope and life... but I can work to make sure that no one will pass by the cross without a basic knowledge of what it means. I may not be able to make everyone say "I believe" but surely I can help others so that they do not say "I dunno." And it starts with me, with my children in Sunday school, in catechism, and with me in worship every Sunday and participating in a Bible study.


Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor,
Just a note to say "Hello" and to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. I like especially what you had to say a few posts back about Evangalism, how it is really God's work... it's so easy, where we live, to have this expectation from others to "do more" to "save" to "win" - you know the deal. While I agree it is important to let other's see Christ in me, I am always uncomfortable when it comes to telling others what they "should" be doing when it comes to church, simply because too often I have seen it cause people to, almost, go the other way. I think it leaves them feeling judged. I think more people need to be reminded that they are not in control here. It seems like a competition sometimes.
I think that now, more than ever, I am grateful to be able to say that I am a Lutheran, simply because I can then tell others that I am saved only by God's grace and love for me. That, no I didn't raise my hand, I didn't say a little prayer, but that daily I just let God dwell in my heart and do my best to keep the faith.
Anyway, I was sure to show Josh your blog as well. We really miss Clarksville and hope to return there someday. Have fun and tell your family hello! Take care ~ Heidi

Janis Williams said...

Yes, pastor,

It seems Christians are, like Christ's disciples were to Him, God's biggest 'problem.' The deer in the headlights look so many of us have when asked what should be a simple Gospel question is all too common.

We, all of us, have got to stop assuming the gospel, and start learning what it is. NOT living it, as so many are wont to say, but knowing it, knowing how to express what it is, and believing what is truly is.

1 Corinthians 15 ought to be mandatory reading for all of us on a regular basis.

Pastor Peters said...

Hey Heidi... We miss you! We pray for you and Josh and for those kids (growing up like weeds from the pix I have seen)...