Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Without Why

One of the (many) problems facing evangelical Christianity today is that it has reduced itself to a sales pitch.

'The ontological fallacy of expecting a light at the end of the tunnel, well, that's what the preacher sells, same as a shrink. See, the preacher, he encourages your capacity for illusion. Then he tells you it's a...virtue. Always a buck to be had doing that, and it's such a desperate sense of entitlement, isn't it?'  Rust Cohle, True Detective

The preacher is there to sell you an illusion, a sense that you are the centre of the universe, that you are the reason for it all and that 'this' message, 'this' moment, 'this' Jesus will enable you to step into your god-given destiny to be a world changer.
Advertisers feed off this kind of narcissism, spurring us on with their products, feeding our mimetic rivalry in believing that if we buy that product we will be like the shiny, glistening, happy and perfect specimen who is wearing it/using it in the first place.

We are fed day in and day out to believe that we really are 'it'.

The preacher has to contend with these powerful mimetic waves and so creates their own version, assuring their listeners that their truth is the real truth, the only way, the life they have been waiting for.

Yet the sense of disillusionment continues, the dissatisfaction intensifies, the envy quickens and the violence erupts in emotional and physical ways leaving a trail of destruction.

So the preacher along with the culture seek a scapegoat to solve the problem, and we see a mimetic wave of blame sweep across our churches and the culture seeking out 'the other' to blame and scapegoat.

Yet Jesus has exposed the lie, the murderous lie of the scapegoat and so there are others who are able to 'see', to recognise this is happening and so speak out.

Those who speak out within the Church do not seek to sell Jesus like another brand, rather they seek to make us aware of what is really going on, no longer hiding behind the tribal machine that keeps them safe, but rather stepping out into the open they preach Christ crucified; not the pagan mythology of a monster needing a virgin to placate the gods, rather God taking upon God's Self the fulness of our violence and wrath, exhausting its power and leaving the darkness of our violence in the tomb.

As soon as you reduce the Gospel to another self-help, transform your life marketing strategy you have lost the Gospel.

Churches get sucked into producing 'vision statements' of how many new people they want in the church over the next few years. The Pastor then becomes a sales rep seeking to convince new customers that what they have been missing all along is the brand the church is selling. The church and the pastor get caught up in a frenetic circle of self-destruction trying to convince people to sign up to your version of events, your brand. The church gets caught up in their vision statement measuring every moment, every new relationship against the scales of the targets they have imposed upon themselves, with the Pastor judged according to the success or otherwise of meeting the targets of the vision statement. Every relationship thus gets reduced to an exercise of target efficiency.

Churches then get drawn into mimetic rivalry, grasping at a culture that is able to superficially attract a crowd far more effectively than they can.

With rivalry comes fear, with fear a scapegoat is required. That scapegoat will be anyone who can be blamed for the church failing to fulfil the 'vision statement', the pastor being an obvious target, yet if they are a strong and influential character then it will be those who break taboo and prohibitions constructed within the church community.

There is another way though; to live Without Why.

To live Without Why is to live faithfully to the gospel.

To live Without Why is to reject such fear and rivalry that selling a brand entails and to walk in the Light of Jesus, the endless source of unconditional love.

To live Without Why is to love Without Why and so break the chords of conditionality that entangle and trap us.

To live Without Why is to encounter the Living God, the God of grace and limitless forgiveness.

To live Without Why is to be invited into the very life of Jesus, to walk in the Way of boundless unconditional love.

‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Without Why.


Anonymous said...

I believe you... preach brother!

Joe Haward said...