Thursday, December 13, 2012
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
No lap dogs Friend,
I am embarrassed. My dog is officially domesticated. When we found him, he was in the animal shelter. His hair was all knotted up, and he was covered in burrs and ticks. He had survived in the desert, no one knew how long. He was good-natured, but unintimidated by any obstacle – animal, vegetable, or mineral. When we walked, he climbed every rock pile and would dive headlong into cacti or open ditches in pursuit of prey. This morning, however, only one year later, I watched as he daintily tiptoed through a patch of landscaping gravel to find the smooth surface of the sidewalk. His feet have become soft and, I suspect, so has he. His hair is carefully brushed every day. His food is delivered to him in measured amounts and at regular intervals. He would rather sleep on a comforter than under a bush. He is a house dog, a domestic animal. The dictionary tells us that a domesticated animal is one who has been tamed to live in close association with human beings as a pet or work animal, usually creating a dependency so that the animal loses its ability to live in the wild.
I don’t really mind that my dog is a little less of a commando these days, but I do get concerned about the church. I fear our Christianity, especially in the United States, has become domesticated, kept a pet by the culture at large. Like a little dog, we stay in our holy yard, protected by the fence, barking at the terrible state of our land. But if the gate is opened we run whimpering back into the house. In the book of Acts, I see a wild, passionate, powerful, committed movement. How does that compare to the Sunday meeting of our religious clubs?
We sing a lot about how much God loves us, but demand precious little of the love for others that goes with loving Him. We are adamant that God wants us to be prosperous, but seem comfortable with watching the rest of the world go hungry. Our sermons extol His sacrifice for us, but we can’t endure a lengthy service or a hard chair, much less a whip and a cross. We interpret our songs of grace as tacit permission to tolerate sin, rather than as inspiration to recoil from it. We celebrate license, not liberty. In our desire to be inoffensive, we condone by our silence the Hell-ward descent of others. Have we become lap dogs, or house dogs, when the world cries for a few junkyard dogs? I hope not.
Somebody Said We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Scripture Reading: The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (Ephesians 1:23 MSG)
I am convinced that our Christianity is supposed to be a gripping saga of love and hardship and heroic deeds, and even the occasional derring-do. It is designed to impact our culture, not reflect it, or please it, or even ignore it. We are here to be different: vibrantly, joyously, obviously, and aggressively different. That is the essence of what it means to be “holy.” Domesticated? Never!
You can access our service videos, our Bible school, and our bookstore at www.fcftucson.org . Drop by and cruise around