- 10 february 2007 -
What's The Goal?
kemper crabb writes an excellent and often very deep column called "the christian and art" for hm magazine. here is an excerpt from issue #123, page 70, subtitled "the disconnect: why evangelicals make bad art":
reprinted by permission from www.hmmagazine.com
at present in western (especially american) evangelical thought, the primary thing assumed to be sought by Chisitians is an experience of God. as an initial step in a christian's spiritual life, no doubt, this is proper, since evangelicals believe that a regenerating personal relation ship with Christ is necessary to spiitual rebirth and the beginning of subsequent sanctification. while it is certainly a good and necessary thing to experience a sustained relationship with God, the feeling of that experience becomes all too often the goal of Christian life (which aberration has given rise to our therapeutically-obsessed culture). again, it is good an necessary to have a consistent experience of the Christ we are living in relationship with (though the idea that this elationship will always make us feel good is a radical misunderstanding of what relationship with the Sanctifying Christ truly means...). the problem is that, if the goal of feeling good becomes primary, then other equally vital aspects of the kind of life set forth for Christians in scriptue are neglected...
the marching orders for evangelicals are frequently said to be found in the geat commission's (matthew 28: 18-20) mandate to evangelize, yet it is not frequently noted that we are to disciple the nation to "observe all things that i have commanded you."
yet , if our primay goal as chistians is to feel good about our relationship with God, then, rather than studying the Bible as a guide for uour lives and callings, so that we can live obediently to please God, bible study becomes only a "quiet time," when we seek to have some emotional experience of God. our attendance at church becomes pimarily a quest for a feel-good experiecne, rather than a ministry to God (an ethical action) of praise and an opportnity to hear God speak to us through His Word and sacraments, equipping us to please Him futher by obediently performing His will outside the walls of the church-building. bad theology of this sort drives many from church to church seeking an emiotional experience (sometimes called a "blessing" or "meeting my spiritual needs", or any number of other spiritual-sounding euphemisms for self-fixated emotinal idolatry), rather than finding a place where they are needed and can help build up Christ's body.
to do our callings, we must attend to God's Word; and we must do so on His terms, not our own, with our focus on the fullness of what He wants us to take away from scripture, not on a partial undestanding which reinforces our self-centeredness and laziness.