Think back to those holidays at the beach as a child. You’d be standing in the sand with the waves gently wrapping around your feet. Even now as an adult, at least in Scotland, people love to walk along the sea and paddle. We enjoy tipping out toes in and getting a feel for the water. How often do we treat theology and the Christian walk in the same way?
This past week we have witnessed a well known musician publicly declare that he has walked away from the faith. This is terribly sad news and everyone should be praying for the man. But the responses to his post and the reactions of people when they hear the news is just as sad. On the one extreme you have people saying ‘Don’t worry, God loves you no matter what you believe’ and on the other people are saying ‘Ha! that’s proof that he was never a real Christian’. But the reasons that he stated on his Instagram post are revealing to the Christian culture that we live in. We settle with paddling!
Christians, rightly, focus on people become Christians and hearing the good news of Jesus. But what next? The focus almost changes from salvation to culmination and the glory of the New Creation when that salvation will be made complete. This misses the mark though, it focuses so much on that glorious future event that it doesn’t help the average Christian with the here and now.
Our bookshelves are filled with books on how to do certain things as Christians; how to be a good mum or dad, a good employer or employee, a good husband and wife. We have so many books on sex, marriage, relationships, work, and so on, these are all great things to think about and read about but does that really give us a foundation to build a strong life of faith upon?
In years gone by people were speaking and writing about deep things, they weren’t paddling but diving head first into the depth of the wonders of Scripture and theology. They wrote and spoke on things like the atonement, sanctification, the incarnation, the Holy Spirit and His works, God’s role in salvation, and Christ’s life on Earth. But the past isn’t there as a PowerPoint presentation of ‘the good old days’ the past is there as a foundation to be built upon! The pendulum has now probably swung the other way and the majority of people are no longer speaking about these deep theological truths but instead we are paddling along the safety of the shore.
If we started to speak about and wrestle with deeper things then we would be built up in our faith. We would be more equipped to deal with objections to Christianity, seeming contradictions in Scripture, the place of miracles today, the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers. A friend sent me this quote the other day which sums it all up well I think…
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
William Booth (1829-1912)
How’s that for an analysis of our present day from a man who stands in the past?
But topics like this can seem overwhelming, can’t they? We can walk away feeling helpless because our voice of influence is very small in a global Church with many big voices. However, the starting place is not on a global scale but on a personal one! If we want to see a people and church changed for the glory of God, if we want to see believers have a deeper understanding of who God is and what He has done then we need to start with ourselves. We are the ones who need to take the trousers up a bit and go from paddling to wading, to swimming and then to diving the depth of the glories of God.
So here is a practical challenge for you; why not take one passage of Scripture and one doctrine from it and spend a whole month thinking about, meditating on, pray through and read about it. In one month you’ll have a good grasp of where you stand on it, you’ll be able to communicate it well to others and you’ll be able to build others up in their faith. Who would like to do that? I’ll help out with recommendations if you get in touch 🙂
We cannot expect to have a healthy spiritual life, a mission focused and God glorifying Church if we settle for paddling in the things of God. We need to dive into the depths and discover the wonders of our Great Father and Lord, if we truly love and are devoted to Him why would we do anything else?