“A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar. The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit; these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.”
This could have been written yesterday, but was written by Tozer (who died in 1963) . . .
Is what Tozer says true for us today? If it was true when he wrote it, more than 55 years ago, is it worse today?
How do we change this culture in the Church? How does the Kingdom of the last and the least being put first and foremost become our living breathing reality? Do we still see ministry “empires” being built rather than shared Kingdom endeavour?
I remember a conversation, about a decade ago now, with a well known UK Christian leader. He sincerely believed that the age of the “platform” and mega speakers, worship leaders etc was coming to an end. I think we are as lost and misguided as ever in the way some continue to be elevated and feted.
Are we in thrall to all that social media can bring us at the swipe of a finger that we don’t look up from our phones to see God at work in the world around us?
Can we live in the slow and less immediate rush of “now” and have a vision of the Spirit inhabiting every believer (As He most surely does!) in such a way that as the Church (Me and You) we might be so empowered and emboldened that we are free to be all that we were made to be?
What does it look like to practice the presence of God today if we can’t be still or concentrate for longer than 30 seconds?
There are huge implications for our practice of discipleship and our understanding of formation. “Results” need to be seen quickly or something just isn’t worth the time and energy.
Huge infrastructure changing and institutionally challenging projects are given three years to make a difference.
Employing youth and children’s workers continues, for many, to be an experiment rather than a long term commitment.
Young men and women are being put through formation for the priesthood when they are still “forming” as adults because we can’t wait until they are older.
Do you feel this malady, this sickness – or is it just me?