The State of Things...I Think
I tend to blog in a pretty tidy, straightforward way. Lately I've been writing less, due to ministry projects, but today I felt like a wild and wooly blog post might be in order.
I've been thinking and watching the world we live in, and I wanted to offer a few thoughts through the lens of Christian spiritual formation. Here we go…
We have a destructive addiction to happiness.
The more the climate of the world changes - financial crises, addictions, etc. - the more people search for happiness. And the further we run off the rails. Happiness is a false front, a shiny veneer on the surface of a broken down beater. Don't get me wrong, I'm a happy person so it's not like I'm projecting my reality on the rest of the world. I like happiness, I like being happy, but I've grown to realize it will run out on you at the wrong moment. I have also seen too many horribly destructive situations made with the SOLE motivation being "happy." Divorces, ending friendships, changing churches, even one's assessment of their relationship with God is calibrated and recalibrated against the compass of happiness (whatever that means to you).
Not to mention the fact that often our decision for happiness causes unhappiness (at best) for someone else.
We were designed for more than happiness. I'm going to write more about this in the future, because we have to start seeing this reality in full and clear scope if we're going to truly realize life lived from the source that is God.
The church is primed and ready to talk about the second half of the Gospel.
The Gospel has been a topic of much discussion lately, from books to blogs to sermons. The history of "evangelism" and "evangelicalism" has created some difficult conversations as we see that conversion moments don't necessarily lead to converted lives. Some Christians address this theologically, chalking it up total depravity and going on rants reminding us about how God is really just tolerating us because of Jesus. Some Christians don't address it at all, glad that one day we'll be teleported (this is what the concept of Rapture looks like for Star Trek fans) off this burning rock and into heaven. In either case, what's missing is the second half of the Gospel. I hesitate to use "half" because if we're looking at the words of Jesus, it's actually more than half - more like "the other 90% of the Gospel" - that has been missed.
To be so enraptured with God in our minds that becoming like Jesus is the only compelling way of life. I think people would jump all over that message and call it "good news."
Understanding generational differences is more important than it seems in Christian spiritual formation.
James Choung shared at a recent conference on the discussion of evangelism & generations. He used a concept called the "spiritual question of the day" to describe the echoes of faith in the hearts & souls of each generation. Here's his thoughts:
Boomers (born 1940s-1964) - What is true? This generation needs linear answers, proofs, empirical evidence and often approaches faith with a lens toward absolute truths.
Xers (born 1965-1984) - What is real? Tired of falsehood, craving authenticity, this generation doesn't want answers they want honesty. The messiness of faith & spirituality is right for them.
Millenials (born 1985- 2004) - What is good? Causes, justice, the work of the good is the highest value for this generation. Jesus is the nonviolent revolutionary that brings justice to the poor & marginalized. Formation comes through serving & missional life.
Why is this so important? Simply because each generation has its emphasis but still needs to develop the emphases of the other generations in order to be completely formed. We have to own our generational characteristics if we're ever going to see places where we need to become like Jesus. Plus, we can understand conflicts in Christian community much better if we can try to see things from each other's perspectives.
So there's some randomness for you. I pray God stirs something in you that's new and fresh today.