As I continue reading through Mark Galli’s book, “Jesus mean and wild: the unexpected love of an untameable God”, I have come across the following passage written by Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, which imitates the passage in Matthew’s Gospel (chapter 23).
To read that scripture go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2023;&version=64;
“Woe to the person who smoothly, flirtatiously, commandingly, convincingly preaches some soft, sweet something which is supposed to be Christianity! Woe to the person who makes miracles reasonable. Woe to the person who betrays and breaks the mystery of faith, distorts it into public wisdom, because he takes away the possibility of offense!…Oh the time wasted in this enormous work of making Christianity so reasonable, and in trying to make it so relevant!”
There are various issues that are tackled in this short paragraph, but I think the overriding idea is that Christians are standing on very shaky ground when they try to rationalise faith and the miraculous, and when they claim to have rational explanations and irrevocable proof of all those things we are blessed to know by faith alone. Christian leaders today have become fleshly driven and so obsessed with making Christianity relevant and appealing to those who yet don’t know Christ, that for the sake of growing numbers and being recognised and applauded as pillars of truth, are bringing God down to our earthly level and erasing in the process, his mysterious and unfathomable nature by pretending to know and explain those things that can only be known through the gift of faith.
Gallo says, “Today we know all too well that the Kingdom of God is not a political entity. But we still, like Peter, pander after a gospel of glory and power. We make much ado about our Christian superstars: best-selling authors, platinum-selling musicians, and powerful preachers who draw in listeners by the tens of thousands. We not only admire, but we lift up and reward such success. We too easily think that growing numbers is an infallible sign of faithfulness. We confuse righteousness with arithmetic. Though assumed to be a sign of God’s blessing, church growth has actually become a mere science.” This is so true. I see this in my own church. We go to tremendous lengths, and industrious efforts to bring new people in through the door. We sacrifice the essence and core of our beliefs in order to make what our churches have to offer more appealing to those who suddenly reveal themselves to us as potential members. We no longer regard the lost as lost, but as goods we can trade with, and God forbid our church service does not come up to scratch in the levels of joy, spirituality and quality of the worship. We will do anything to appear to the outside world that we are a buoyant crowd with much going for it. Does all this sound like the humility and surrender to the lead of the Holy Spirit that Christ talked about so much during his ministry? Quite frankly, nothing like it.
I believe that when we establish debates or entertain conversations over theological issues with those who don’t believe; when we claim to be in possession of the truth, but then go on to justify our position through logical explanations in an attempt to deviate the fiery darts thrown by unbelievers; when we try to draw people to God by engaging discussions instead of by righteous living; when we invest all our gifts, time and energy in pretending to be God and having all the answers, even if God has clearly told us in His word that now we know in part and we see in part, and therefore much is to remain an absolute mystery until the coming of the Lord; when all this takes place, the spirit of Christ in us becomes tainted and deviated from the purpose for which it was placed in us in the first place.
Centuries after centuries religious discussion and disagreements with other religions, atheists, scientists, etc. have caused much harm and detriment to Christianity and shown Christians to be arrogant, lacking in compassion and gracefulness, lacking in humility and meekness and more worryingly lacking in integrity and consistency, as we profess with our mouths to be in possession of a life-transforming truth and yet with every word, with every turn, comes an action or an attitude that clearly reveals Christ cannot be the pillar that sustains our eagerness to convert others to the Christian faith, but our own egos which are clearly stroked by the sound of our own lofty arguments and impossible rationalizations of divine and holy matters.
There is only one thing for it and that is the way of the cross. Galli says in his book: “What the church should be in God’s sight is not glorious, powerful, or successful by our standards, but faithful. This means the church, and every member in it, must die to dreams of relevance and success. We have to let all that be crucified. It also means letting the church be the church, the flawed institution that God has used time and again to further his kingdom in the world.”
Why then, can’t we admit we just do not have all the answers when confronted with challenging questions by those who do not believe? Why don’t we then put our own desires and agendas to rest and let our transformed lives speak for themselves to those around us who desperately seek after scientific evidence? What more evidence does one need than to see someone humbly, selflessly and in the privacy of his or her own life go about the Father’s business, expecting no recognition, reward or glory? There are thousands of Christians out there who fit that bill and that are known to the Father and will be rewarded with heavenly treasures, but for each of those “saints”, there is an individual who fails to be a true disciple, because in order to avoid picking up that cross and putting self to death, would do anything that in the face of it, is all about bringing glory and praise to God, but under the surface reveals itself to be yet another ploy to exalt our churches, our ministries and ourselves.
I have myself over the years had many of these debates over theological questions with some members of my family and friends who do not believe, and over a period of time and after much hurt, tongue biting and internal conviction by the Holy Spirit, I have come to see that no explanation, no argumentation even when based on the Bible or on historical evidence, can ever bring a man to his knees in recognition of a Holy God who sacrificed his own Flesh and Blood to make us His. Only the way of the cross, only a life lived in humility and repentance, only a life in pursuit of forgiveness and holiness, a life dedicated to personally deciphering through The Word alone, the mystery of a Holy God, can and will be enough evidence, reliable evidence, trust-worthy evidence in the eyes of those who so desperately seek logic and irrefutable proof about a God who cannot be manipulated or caged like a bird.