Thinking Out Loud

February 16, 2016

So What?

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:32 am

I had a weird flashback a few days ago to a brief period in my childhood when the phrase, “So what?” was considered the height of rudeness, especially in a child and parent context.

It came to mind for an entirely different reason however. I was thinking about the great host of scriptural teaching that we are now afforded through websites, blogs, podcasts, streaming and video-on-demand; not to mention traditional media such as books, radio and television.

Being cold or hot spiritually is a slightly different topic, but I thought I'd toss this graphic in to today's discussion salad.

Being cold or hot spiritually is a slightly different topic, but I thought I’d toss this graphic in to today’s discussion salad.

On Sunday I heard three sermons. One I was sitting in church. Two I was sitting at my computer. I actually had the option of watching full services; but chose just to track with the teaching portion. Otherwise, I could have technically been to three church services.

But for all the teaching I’m getting — and I am fairly stuffed most days — there are times when I observe a disconnect between scriptural truth and what is going on in the real world. When I look away from the pages in the book, or glance away from the computer screen, I see a Christianity that is totally messed up, at least in places, including my own.

I hear the reading, jot down the three points, but there’s a part of me that says, “So what?” This time though it’s not in the defiant tone that got me in trouble as a child, but it’s more of a cry of, “Why isn’t this making more of a difference in my life?” Or, “Why am I not seeing this lived out in my life and the lives of my acquaintances?”

A year ago, in a different context, I shared this analogy:

Last summer I purchase some clear wood stain as well as a gallon of opaque wood stain for another project. With the clear product, it took layers and layers and layers of application before I noticed a difference taking place and it immediately struck me that this is what happens with sermons. Applied to our life in layers, the effect is initially invisible, but evidenced over a lifetime of faithfully attending to hear from God’s set-apart leaders.

That’s why I would never give up my listening/reading habits. But I do wish I could find more of a synergy between the idealized Christian life described by those authors, pastors and Bible teachers versus my everyday life in the trenches.

Am I looking for a sign? Longing to see a miracle? Wishing for a better batting average on answered prayers? Simply needing a vacation? Maybe that’s part of it.

Or perhaps my spiritual confidence is just becoming shaky. Not fragile to the point of nearing extinction, but just shaky in terms of where it ought to be proportionate to the years I’ve been on this faith journey, the people with whom I’ve interacted, and the material I have been privileged to have heard or read.

I don’t want to be SuperChristian, but I just want there to be more of a one-to-one correspondence between the spiritual ideals I can so easily espouse, and my usually stressed-out, burned-out daily experience.

Just being transparent, that’s all.

Related: September, 2011 – Faith Under Pressure


1 Comment »

  1. Hi Paul,

    Love this post. You struck a chord for me, and you brought up two old, almost forgotten, memories.

    My father was a pastor for over forty years. I remember him musing at the dinner table once. He figured those most of the congregation didn’t remember much of his sermons by mid-week. So, he wondered, what was the point?

    But over time he came to the conviction that he was offering daily bread (or, weekly bread). He didn’t see great miracles; no one walked on water and no blind eyes were opened. But bit by bit, over time, people changed.

    It’s very much like your story.

    Did you ever read the biography of C. Evert Koop (not sure how to spell that)? He was the U. S. surgeon general in the 1980’s. His wife was a believer and he wasn’t. But she would go to his events so he began going to her church with her on Sunday nights. After a year or two (or three, I don’t remember), he all-of-a-sudden realized that he had become a believer. He said he couldn’t remember when it happened. But a year or two ago (or three), he didn’t believe in God, and now he believed Jesus was God’s son, came, died, rose, and was returning. Somewhere, somehow, in some way, it all happened. Bit by bit.


    Comment by Beliefs of the Heart — February 16, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

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