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Jul 14, 2009

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My car overheated on the freeway the other day, and I pulled off at the nearest exit and turned the engine off. I popped the hood and immediately heard that sick boiling sound in the radiator. After allowing it to cool off for awhile, I took one of the kids' shirts I found in the back of the car and placed it over the radiator-cap and turned. Water and steam sprayed out, and the car gave a big angry sigh. Luckily I had a gallon of water sitting next to the driver's seat (we call it "cancer water" because it's been sitting in the hot car) so I popped the cap and used it to fill the radiator. Five minutes later I was cruising down the freeway and the temperature was back to normal.

Most of our questions in life, like: "What do I do when my child does this or that" or "How should I respond to a person who........" or "What should I say to convince a person of....." are all mechanically based questions. In this generation we have come to think of people as machines. Just like my car overheating, there is a set of standard things to do that will fix the problem with any car. Because we see people as being like machines, we have also learned to see God as an even bigger machine. This is why most of our churches present a one-size-fits-all gospel full of stock Christian answers that are supposed to work for everyone.

We've been trained to go immediately to the Bible for the answers when something goes wrong in life. We even call the Bible a "Handbook for Living." We liken it to an owner's manual for our car. The answers are the same for every living person. They're standard answers that apply to all situations. The result of this way of thinking is that we have an entire generation of Christians who don't see themselves as individuals, capable of knowing God on an individual level. We monitor our spiritual growth by how much of the Bible we've read and memorized or how much of the pastor's sermon we've put into practice that week.

In the Old Testament times, the people were certainly treated like a group of heartless cattle. When you have a million plus people whose hearts are dead, you pretty much have to herd them around together until their hearts can be resurrected. The Israelites had a "Group God" who did everything in groups. He delivered them all at once. He fed them together and gave them water together. He even punished them as a group. His laws were group laws, and the consequences for breaking those laws were the same for everyone. It HAD to be this way.

In New Testament times hearts have been resurrected and God now lives within each of us. The law can no longer apply simply because we are individuals possessing the Spirit of God. When we continue to see God and people on a "Group God" level, we are missing out on Life itself.

When we seek stock answers for groups of people today, we're actually denying what took place on the cross. We're denying the resurrection and sticking with the cattle-herding mentality of the Old Testament. As a pastor, it almost killed me trying to herd those "cattle" because none of the answers I presented to them were working. I was even tempted to withdrawal myself from the people and hide behind those stock answers and blame the people for not getting it.

I think we live in a generation of Christians who are programed to NOT ask the right questions. Most of our questions have to do with the "cattle mindset." We still think one answer fits all people. We've been taught that every miracle, every instance of deliverance, every healing and every comment from the mouth of God found in the Bible applies to all of us. I think we're terrified of believing that God is a personal God, because it would mean we must know Him personally. It's much easier to memorize the stock Christian answers and keep our distance from Him at all times.

I've learned that the answer, "I don't know" is usually the best of all. We're not commissioned to know the answers anymore. We're commissioned to love. These days, when I get a question from someone about a person in their life, my only answer is, "Love them."

Darin Hufford


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Comments

  1. Gravatar
    Richard

    Good stuff man.I believe that is the key problem with the church today.We are all mixed up on how to fellowship with God or at least I know I was.But now its me and Jesus not that I don't appreciate the whole body of Christ but I have to get a nudge from him or at least feel I do before I go anything anymore.So keep writing man!

  2. Gravatar
    Silas

    Amen! Thanks brother Darin.

  3. Gravatar
    nanrantx

    Hey Darin, not to be woo-woo metaphysical but the human spirit/heart does, in my thinking anyway, broadcast God-like energy in a form of speech or life instructions. Research has shown the heart/spirit has its own complex nervous system—the “heart brain” and the heart sends far more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. We’ve been taught to not listen to our heart [Christian religion] and yet heart signals especially affect the brain centers involved in decision making, creativity and emotional experience.

    gee…imagine that…individuals just listening to what Father speaks to their heart…and then doing it. One God but an infinite Way of making Himself real individually and personally.

    celebrating with you…nancy in corpus christi

  4. Gravatar
    Rich

    Everything was written for us, but not To us..good stuff Darin!

  5. Gravatar
    David Backus

    I think this is the first time I have actually disagreed with you. I kind of DO use the Bible as a manual to direct my life. Granted it isn't a step by step formula for every little thing but, I kind of do lean on my Bible knowledge in making decisions and clarifying what God wants in my life concerning specific situations. I also find it coming in handy when it comes to defending my faith and what I believe and why. The New Testament has GREAT apologetics as well as a practical guide to living the wild Christian life. Paul tells us to study and show ourselves as approved workmen. We are also taught to test and compare everything with scripture and with the Spirit. We need to know WHY the bible says what it says. Knowledge of the why avoids the problem of defaulting to stock answers.

  6. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    David are you sure this comment belongs with this article? Your comment doesn't have anything to do with what was written here. Did you mean to put it somewhere else?

  7. Gravatar
    David Backus

    it was a response to the third paragraph down. Maybe I am misunderstanding the intent.

  8. Gravatar
    Dear Family

    this is excellent, I was once told that everyone is on there own journey and those words are so true. Everyone can know God and does in there own way. God reveals himself to everyone in a special way to touch that persons heart in a unique way in order that all individuals can Love. Peace brother Darin

  9. Gravatar
    TLC

    My son and I watched "Religulous" a few weeks ago. They went to a re-creation of Palestine in Florida to interview people. Most of the people quoted Scripture, and if they couldn't, they COULD NOT think of an answer in words of their own! It was a great example of something that really irritated me about the church, and sometimes hurt because people seemed to be robots with quotes, not people with feelings. Great commentary, Darrin.

  10. Gravatar
    Jenny

    Yes, we do tend to use Scriptures and other quotes to answer questions and thus avoid giving people genuine, specific, individual answers that'll speak to their needs. We're even trained to give stock answers in our Bible Schools etc, to questions about God's existence. No wonder we're accused of not listening to people. Again you've made me think.

  11. Gravatar
    Kirsty

    I think the point is that we need to be going to God with our problems, rather than trying to find someone else, or something else, that will tell us what to do. So going to the Bible is good, as long as we're letting God show us what it is really saying.
    So for example I can tell myself over and over again that I'm 'made in God's image', but that's not gonna mean anything to me really until God puts that in my heart. Until that happens, I'm just gonna end up feeling guilty that I don't feel like that, when I think that I should. There's a difference between knowing something because the Bible says so, and really knowing it.

  12. Gravatar
    jenny

    "We still think one answer fits all people. We've been taught that every miracle, every instance of deliverance, every healing and every comment from the mouth of God found in the Bible applies to all of us." And if we think that we have to get very confused because even in the Bible God dealt with different people different ways depending what was in their heart and what the circumstances were. And does it then get back to believing the Bible says what you want it to say by taking the bits you want to believe are about you or the people you are talking to? There has to be another way.

  13. Gravatar
    Adam

    I agree with this article. However if you don't hear from God when you pray the Bible is the only substitute

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