120 Years

Thursday, October 21, 2010
I was reading a book today.

The chapter I was reading begins with the following quote:

It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.(1)

My first thought, upon reading those words, is of the remarkable truth they speak. This is often my experience: I don't often see science, or atheism, or pantheism or agnosticism attacking the church all that much. Most often the detractors to faith are self-fulfillment. People today are hesitant to seek God because they don't need God. Even people in the church seem to be meeting all their own needs instead of looking to God for help. 

I thought this quote, because it spoke so plainly of today's North America church, must be recent. Turns out it's not. Unless there is a typo in the book's citation, the quote is from 1890. Crazy that for 120 years the issues have been much the same. 

I wonder why this is so. 

The chapter goes on to deal with our lukewarmness. As in, our response to Jesus is often more lukewarm than we realize. It's as if we're not fully buying in to the words Jesus has for his followers. 

It's as if we're not taking Jesus at his word. 

A few minutes later I was reading John 4 when these words jumped off the page at me: 

The man took Jesus at his word and departed.
(John 4:50b)

Because this guy "took Jesus at his word" amazing things happened in his life: his son, who was on the verge of dying, lived. 

That is incredible. 

I can't help but think that if we took Jesus more literally we'd see incredible things too: the dying would live. Churches would be filled with people who don't see God as another thing to have* but as their source of life. 

And so I pose this question: What words of Jesus do we need to be taking more literally?

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(1) Frederic D. Huntington, Forum magazine, 1890. Cited in Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p. 65 David C. Cook, Colorado Springs, 2008

* Got Jesus?