Friday, October 4, 2019

Riding the wave. . .

Causes come and go.  When they are popular, it seems impossible to ignore them.  When they are replaced and our short attention spans move on, who can recall them.  Yet it is our curse to be caught in the midst of popular causes whether we jump on their bandwagon or not.  Even if the pastor keeps his head, these causes will affect those in the pews.  And if the pastor is caught up in it all, he will enlist the folks in the pews to join him in whatever is new or trendy.

We have lived through change for change's sake for too long.  From worship trends to evangelism programs to Bible studies, the Church has suffered the ups and downs of change, trend, and fad.  Our closets are full of the last great program to fill the pews or fill the plates.  Meanwhile we have moved on.  It is exhausting and it is a waste of time and resources.  Everyone wants a quick and easy path to bigger and better and none of us wants to trust the Lord working through the means of grace.  So we read the mail, daydream about success might look like, and try the next great solution to the problem of faithfulness and faith which seems to content no one.

But there is another aspect to this.  New and different appeals to us because it appeals to those outside the Church.  In other words, we are attracted to the latest and greatest because none of us wants to look like we are out of step with the times.  We have confused innovation with faithfulness and made creativity more important than integrity.  Liturgical churches play around with seeker worship and contemporary music to look hip and evangelical churches play around with the liturgy for exactly the same reasons. 

Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. [Mt 6:1-2]

Could it be that this warning from Jesus is less about ashes on the forehead or genuflecting than it is succumbing to the pressure to be new, different, and in sync with the times?  Could it be that Jesus is not condemning the practiced piety learned from parent and pastor within the life of the church down through the ages but importing something at odds with who we are only so that we can impress those inside and outside who treat theology as technology?  Could it be that we fear the rejection of men more than the rejection of God? 


John Joseph Flanagan said...

I am so tired of the changes today. I am so tired of the culture wars, the idiocy of the Democrats, the fact that most people just stare at their smartphones and take selfies of themselves regularly. The vanity of the times is troubling. Perhaps, it is the end times after all.

jwskud said...

Despair not, John J! God is still enthroned in His Heaven, and His Holy Spirit stills bestows faith in His Son.

But, yeah, it's pretty bad out there! :)