Jul 14, 2009
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 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."
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