Sunday, September 09, 2007

Dullness and dangerous wonder


There are very few times when I will abdicate this space to another author. But today, I am called beyond doubt to share with you the words of the late Mike Yaconelli - author, pastor, and founder of Zondervan's Youth Services. These few paragraphs hit my heart like none other in recent months.

These are not my words, though I wish I had written them. They echo the cry of my heart, however, and are a powerful cry out to the Church. Preach it, brother Mike:
The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer.

The critical issue today is dullness.

We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life-changing, it is life-enhancing. Jesus doesn't change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore, He changes them into "nice people."

If Christianity is about being nice, I'm not interested.

What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside down? What happened to the category-smashing, life-threatening, anti-institutional gospel that spread through the first century like wildfire and was considered (by those in power) dangerous? What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?

I'm ready for a Christianity that "ruins" my life, that captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable. I want to be filled with an astonishment which is so captivating that I am considered wild and unpredictable and...well... dangerous. Yes, I want to be "dangerous" to a dull and boring religion. I want a faith that is considered "dangerous" by our predictable and monotonous culture.

A. W. Tozer said a long time ago, "Culture is putting out the light in men and women's souls." He was right. Dullness is more than a religious issue, it is a cultural issue. Our entire culture has become dull. Dullness is the absence of the light of our souls. Look around. We have lost the sparkle in our eyes, the passion in our marriages, the meaning in our work, the joy in our faith.

(Mike Yaconelli, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith)
God of all creation, burn away the scales in our eyes, and on our hearts. Help us see the wonder and the astonishment of what you have given us - this day, and every single day. Let this wonder ignite our souls in ways both old and new. Restore us, renew us. Let your holy fire descend once again. Amen.

5 comments:

Poor Mad Peter said...

You've often reminded me of Mike Y. in your postings--and that's a compliment, Steve man. :)

Tom Scharbach said...

"What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? What happened to the kind of Christians who were filled with passion and gratitude, and who every day were unable to get over the grace of God?"

The Christian Right would argue that they are passion-filled, making the world uncomfortable, hearts on fire and speaking fearlessly about the moral decline and the ravages of "niceness" (tolerance) of our times when they speak out and try to reform our nation on issues like "abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer".

I don't agree with the Christian Right on anything, and I fight them tooth and nail, but I have to agree with both the Christian Right and Mike Yaconelli that "mainstream" Christianity has become, well, "mainstream" -- a mewing kitten that has given up on transforming individuals or society. "Mainstream" Christian churches today are about as fearsome as -- and virtually indistinguishable from -- the Elks, Odd Fellows or Masons, and share many characteristics with clubs of that kind -- inward-looking, do-good social clubs existing primarily to make members feel good about themselves.

Why anyone bothers with them is beyond me.

Lorna (see through faith) said...

Amen

Heidi Renee said...

Mike was one of my mentors. I had the honor of meeting him quite a few times and sitting under his teaching too. It is such a loss to the kingdom to not have him 'on this side' anymore. Thanks for the great reminder!

wilsonian said...

Amen and amen!