“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
There is a tendency within the church to adopt values of the culture it lives in.
As church simmers in the stew of country and culture it is inevitable some of the flavor will seep in.
Not all of that is bad by any means. I’m not for promoting fear of common culture.
However, there are times to prayerfully consider and question whether our faith or church looks more like our roots in Christ or the current stream of thinking. And the same with our personal goals and life.
I can think of many instances in the history of the church that such a prayerful stepping back could have prevented some blights in our heritage.
A while back, a phrase I kept hearing in online Christian circles was the idea of having a “God-sized dream.” And it raised questions in me, because I heard very little about these God-sized dreams being about simply pursuing things that God was passionate about: living in peace with our neighbors, loving selflessly, having less and giving more. Very little about simple, unglamorous lives. Nothing about striving to “lead a quiet life and work with our hands” (1 Thess. 4:11).
Instead I kept hearing these dreams and stories about what “I” was going to do. How “I” had a big purpose or dream. They were visions of book publishing, public speaking, huge blog platforms, starting heroic non-profits. . . I began to wonder if these “God sized dreams” were really more about making “me” god-sized, instead of just playing our small part in God’s big beautiful story.
And as I sat in my own “dreams,”, I feltself-promotion and self-importance sticking to me. It felt a little like individualism taking root. (Hello. I currently own a website with my name as the title).
There has been much buzz about what individuals are going to do for God.
It didn’t sound much like Moses who was called by God in a burning bush and said, “No thanks” several times before God audibly convinced him to go.
Or Deborah who didn’t propose to go and lead Israel’s army, but conceded to Barak saying he was going to lose notoriety by bringing her as a good luck charm.
Or David who didn’t assume he was made to be something big and important and just remained faithful to his job as a shepherd.
Or Jesus, who, knowing that the people wanted to force him to be king (even though he was already King) got the heck out of there.
I heard so much encouragement to get bigger, and very little encouragement like James gave “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
Sometimes, as I read about the prominent figures in the Bible, I think about how for every prominent person mentioned there were thousands and thousands of nameless people in that same generation. I have a strong affection towards those nameless multitudes that collectively kept messing up in the history of the Old Testament, because I keep messing up too. I have a strong affection towards the nameless multitudes because more than likely, when the history of this generation is written, my name won’t be in it.
I love those thousands of nameless people that sat before Jesus just to hear his words because I sit before Him and treasure His words as well.
Though we don’t know who they are, they were not nameless to God. Every moment of their lives is recorded in His memory, as much as every moment of our lives He has been beside us. We are neither as important nor as obscure as we think we are.
And those real, flesh and blood people that Paul wrote his letters to? Who couldn’t figure out how to do this new thing of church and kept messing up and bringing the parts of culture into it that didn’t belong? They are our brothers and sisters of faith, and our great cloud of witnesses. I’m sure they empathize lovingly with us as we continue to do the same.