Wrote this in my local newspaper. Just because I write a blog doesn’t mean that I am a hypocrite.
I have noticed more and more “concerned” folks out there. They are not mad, ticked off or frustrated, they are “concerned”. A few years ago a “concerned” man wrote a great book called “Christless Christianity; The Alternative Gospel of the American Church”. His name was Micheal Horton and he said, “My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for ‘relevant’ quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal source rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be.”
Rachel Barach the manager of “Biblegateway” an on-line Bible Study tool commenting on the amount of use the site gets says “The truth is, all this digital accessibility, all the hours spent reading Scripture on our laptops and mobile devices, all of these verses broadcast out to our friends via social media may not be having the impact we might expect on Bible engagement and Christian maturity — on our understanding and application of Scripture, on biblical literacy, on our connection to church and Christian community, on our lens for seeing and serving a broken world.”
Well now I am concerned. You mean to tell me that all that personal piety out there and personal encounters with “my Jesus”, and prayers offered up to “my God” based upon an appeal on Facebook has led to less engagement in the church and less Christian activity in the world? Can it be possible that 140 letters and a hash tag may lead our Biblical understanding to be as shallow as our political understanding? The devil likes the former and politicians like the latter.
We have, like all things in this society, made faith a “personal thing”. The Bible is only important in what it says to me. Christ is relevant when he is relevant to me. We may not have heard it because preachers are getting into the act of simplifying the scriptures and personalizing them to the detriment of faith, but the Biblical witness is that faith cannot be personal and be Biblical. Personal faith always translates into a community created by Christ that he calls His body and we call the church. It is tough to get into 140 characters but the Bible says that Christ is the Savior of the Body which is His Church and that Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for it (Ephesians 5). Everything that Christ does is done in community. The exceptions are when He goes off alone and prays and look it up; those occasions take place in the midst of a great temptation to make a church out of the results of miraculous mercy, rather than repentance and faith. All the great mission movements in Acts take place in community. Paul and Barabbas wait to go on a mission trip until the entire church at Antioch give them the OK. The Biblical evidence is that Christ’s forgiveness, salvation, and grace is dispensed through His body, the church, and the church is a community whether we like it or not. All of this activity is to bring individuals to the place where they forget their individuality and give glory to God and help to their neighbor. The sinner, the human turned in upon him/herself, forgiven in Christ becomes turned outward to neighbor in love. Just the opposite of the self and selfie absorbed social media addict of today.
My computer tells me that this is 683 words long. More than most people have the attention span to read and more than the paper probably wants to print. 140 characters is easier so #that.