Thursday, July 17, 2008
Saving the world is sexy...
"I’m very concerned about the continual influence of consumerism Christianity and a Christianity that is very self-centered. Even in some of the social justice initiatives that I see, I wonder at times if it’s really about social change and kingdom advancement or if it’s about the sense of accomplishment and adventure one gets from the experience." -Efrem Smith
"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired,
because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.
There is a reality to the Christian life that is only found after you have drained through all the foamy filler at the top of the glass. Much of the first blush of life in God is an innocent, yet still self focused act of indulging self. Now granted it is a "religious self" but after all the tired churchy platitudes are scraped off your bumper and self righteous goody goodyness is finally exhausted...in the end you discover that "you" were still at the center. This is especially true with those of us who are drawn towards "ministry to the poor" in whatever form it takes. There is a genuine compassion that can fuel a madness to become Jesus incarnate, a danger of falling into the error trying to "Bring Jesus down" (Romans 10:6). It's a noble endeavor to want to help alleviate suffering of your neighbor as Jesus taught us to do in His parable of the Good Samaritan. But it becomes almost idolatry to move from simple charity to ending World Hunger, Sickness & Disease, Social Evils, War, Poverty, AIDS, Global Warming, Deforestation and whatever other sin is in the sights of the current Philanthropy Band Wagon.
The "Messiah-complex" is becoming so huge that at any moment I am sure we will come to realize that we don't need Jesus to ever return because we will soon discover that....we can save the planet!
How many teats can we grow until we realize there will always be one more greedy mouth sucking off the breast of charity?
And quite frankly most of us want it to be that way...because we "feel good" being that sow who's getting all the attention. In fact we secretly hope to be on the cover of "O", Rollingstone or Christianity Today as the newly christened and publicly worshipped, hot new multi-breasted goddess of the hour.
But the truth is, we soon discover that we are not called to change the world...as much as testify to a change in our world. Now granted that change is one that ushers love into the center of our lives but not in a self serving way. It's the whole point of doing works of service in secret...an act that unfortunately is not in vogue today. We have celebrity's of charity all over. You see their names in lights, on the covers of their books with their smiling faces and testimonies of how they are changing the world. They sit in plush couches on TV or in the Pulpits pontificating about their plans and strategies to turn the planet back into eden in less time than it takes to publish their next book.
The really lazy people are yearning to worship "Heros" and the more dysfunctional are trying to become the hero.
It's that motivation that is fueling so much of our works of mission today. I stop and wonder if the truth is just that we are really a bunch of empty people frantically trying to fill that inner void with our chronic do gooding.
It's seeming like more and more vanity and chasing after the wind.