Friday, January 07, 2011

Easy Mac Trend Toward Insta-Spirituality

Macaroni in minutes. Just add water. A vacuum-seal package. Insta-food is normal. Speed is king.

But it's not 'simple'. It's someone else's highly-polished complexity in a serving-sized container. Someone else's hard work you ingest.

Insta-spirituality is similar. Tastes good, fills up  but isn't good. Trends toward pre-packaged spirituality isn't spiritual growth at all. Barna describes the problem like this:
Growing numbers of people are less interested in spiritual principles and more desirous of learning pragmatic solutions for life. When asked what matters most, teenagers prioritize education, career development, friendships, and travel. Faith is significant to them, but it takes a back seat to life accomplishments and is not necessarily perceived to affect their ability to achieve their dreams.
Among adults the areas of growing importance are lifestyle comfort, success, and personal achievements. Those dimensions have risen at the expense of investment in both faith and family. The turbo-charged pace of society leaves people with little time for reflection.
The deeper thinking that occurs typically relates to economic concerns or relational pressures. Spiritual practices like contemplation, solitude, silence, and simplicity are rare. (It is ironic that more than four out of five adults claim to live a simple life.)
Practical to a fault, Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities. Because we continue to separate our spirituality from other dimensions of life through compartmentalization, a relatively superficial approach to faith has become a central means of optimizing our life experience.
Not biblical faith. It's faith in something other than the God of the Bible. It's idolatry of pragmatism, trusting in one's ability to work the American system. It will lead you straight to spiritual illness and death as clearly as living on McDonalds will Super-size you. Judgment is built into the experience. 

If easy-made insta-spirituality is your faith in God, you are in deep trouble.

Counter the trend? With a Real Bad News/Good News Gospel. 
'Insta-spirituality says the foundational problem goes like this, "I need to overcome inconveniences and discomfort and God will help me."  

God says in the Scriptures the fundamental problem is much worse. God has a problem with you. It's your own personal sin. 

At Crosspoint/Encuentro we say this: you are a sinner just like everybody else. A sinner like a prostitute, pimp, alcoholic, corporate raider or murderer. Isn't that what Jesus meant when He said lust is adultery and calling somebody an 'idiot' is murder?

Sin is much worse than the sanitized versions we hear from I'm-trying-to-be-happy religious or spiritual people, right? And I am (the pastor) more sinful than I imagined too.

The Problem Needs to be Felt and Seen as Severe
The Law of God points out to us the depth and severity of our sin. That is a good thing in the long run.

Why? Because as we see the depth and severity of our own sin, we realize we need a stronger, bigger Savior.

Good News is Severely Good Gospel (Gospel means 'Good News')
Put personally, Jesus volunteered to become a man, lived the life I should have lived and allowed himself to be arrested, tried, convicted and crucified. And while He was dying, hanging on a cross as my substitute, God took all my severe sin - past, present and future - and put in on Him and punished Him in my place.

He died as my substitute and three days later was raised from the dead.

It took a severe price to redeem this severe sinner. It's the only real solution. It isn't cheap. It wasn't easy and it isn't instant. He's bigger than my convenience and my comfort.

And good news is offered to all who turn and trust what Jesus did for them.

How do we grow in the Gospel? Cosmic restoration.
Restoration means real effort, practical help, spiritual discipline and fighting emotionally challenging idolatry. Challenging presumptions about American life.

We aren't wasting our lives on nice. Or happy. Or comfort, retirement, successful careers. There's more.

- We worship. Weekly we put real effort into worship each Sunday. Our church will not take a Sunday off for convenience. Sunday's designated for worship. It's the way He designed us.
- We serve. Our Redeemer was extremely practical. He asks us to do practical, inconvenient, hard actions on His behalf. We practically help folks who aren't like us, welcome people of other races, cultures, legal status, ability and class. We serve without alerting the media.
All people are made in the image of God. So dignity is big. Help without hurting. No matter how the world treats them, with us they are honored.
- We pray. Twice a year we devote ourselves to prayer. Our intercession team prays weekly. Families and individuals pray together in our vocations and as we go.
- We observe the disciplines of historic Christianity. We give, read/study God's Word, meditate, observe silence and cekebrate. We repent and forgive each other. We learn our gifts and serve accordingly.
- Our eyes on the nations. Our mission takes 'real' Christianity to Smyrna, Atlanta and all the nations. Crosspoint/Encuentro plays a role in a world-wide enterprise.

Note: We also interact with friends and family, culture, art, music, movies, parties and have fun. Pretty normal people who aren't settling for the American dream.

Different than nominal Christianity
By faith in Christ's redemption we stand forgiven, cleaned, guilt-free and adopted in His radical family. 

God is shaping us into ambassadors and freedom fighters for His kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.   

Our hope and prayer is that Americans can think further ahead than the present. This return to historic Christianity is far more robust, significant and vital than this small present American situation.

If you would like to talk about what you can do to encourage real, vital, winsome historic Christianity, leave a comment. 


MenRising said...

I really appreciated this post. I think the problem stems from a "convenience store / fast food" culture where we want everything we want RIGHT NOW! Could you possibly give me the link to the Barna quote? Would like to do some research around wherever you found that quote for my own articles.

Pastor Jim said...

MenRising the link is built into the words 'describe the problem' right in the post. The font is slightly lighter.

I quoted his whole paragraph on the subject. May have to search more on his site.

Thanks again for commenting on Broken Pastor.