It’s hard NOT to process things through Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas. Chaos abounds. Most would assume that all chaos is dangerous. Does the chaos tell us anything about the Church in the West?
We live in the chaos of a post-modern culture. This is not merely going back to a pagan, pre-Christian life. This is post-Christian. Many are seeking the benefits of religion (community, values, elevated lifestyles) without the rigors of commitment, obedience, and the authority of one God. Postmoderns want the personal benefits of Christianity without the Christ.
In fact, with postmodernity flourishing, there is a visible angst against the God, who created and allowed the mess we’re in. At least, that’s the argument. With a post-modern thinking cementing itself on Western shores, a growing Gnosticism has begun to take over. Gnosticism values “knowing” and enlightenment as the way out. It is a religion of self. Think Ophrah Winfrey walking across Tony Robbin’s hot coals to prove the power within. Coincidentally, the power within, for a post-modern, negates the greater Creator power without. Ironically, Robbin’s hot coals burnt and blistered some 30 people in Dallas recently. Our power within often burns and blisters when unattached to the greater Power without.
What about the chaos? We, collectively & individually, can work our way out of this mess. We’re good enough; gosh darn it. Self is the only authority we can trust. After all, the other God authority is responsible for the cultural mud from which we have to dig ourselves out. At least that’s the argument.
This pervasive thinking also explains why so many individuals are seeking adventure, adrenaline, and all the awesomeness they can brew up. It’s what worship of self looks like. We are getting better, and so we should reflect the fruit of such awesome better. At least, that’s the argument.
This past weekend, the family traveled to Knoxville for a wedding of a great family friend. Knoxville. Tennessee. Big orange country. Peyton Manning’s stomping grounds. Smokey Mountain territory. Salt of the Midwest earth stuff. Knoxville. But even there, we saw some of the post-modern frivolity waved in our faces. We ventured into Knoxville’s Market Square for a huge farmer’s market. Each white tent featured organic, hand-squeezed, home grown, all natural, home-made, earthy stuff. It was a living tribute to self. Each temporary white tent touted wares created by us. Self. Me. You. I couldn’t get over how much all the whole-grain bread, soy candles, and Kombucha tea cost. But nobody seemed to care. The market sold only the best for the best. Prices just didn’t appear to matter. We’re worth it; gosh darn it.
Which brings us to our chaos. If we’re so good and better, what do we do with the latest headlines? If we are so good and better, why aren’t things getting good and better?
Does any of this chaos and Gnosticism inform the Church? Perhaps its this: Relevance can no longer supplant Gospel resiliency. Of course, we need to know the culture and relate. But if such efforts overshadow the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16), we have played into the deceptive undercurrents of post-modern thinking. Christianity without Christ. Such relevant churches without Gospel resiliency will soon disappear.
What about the chaos? Danielle Strickland, in “A Beautiful Mess” points to the power of God to move within chaos to create life. Look no further than Genesis 1:1. Gospel resiliency can take our post-modern chaos and point people to life. Jesus entered our chaos to create and give life. Gospel resiliency. Maybe our current chaos is Kingdom opportunity if we continue on a path of Gospel resiliency.
Mark Sayers in “Disappearing Church” writes, “A church that is no longer disappearing is the one that leads people into realizing they are not God.” Gospel resiliency.