It means "writings." I write things.

11:54 AM

New wine...continued

Posted by Brad Polley |

So we've looked at what, I believe, is wrong with the American Church, a rampant consumer-driven Christianity; a Christianity that is about showing up to church and having church done to you.  This approach doesn't look a whole lot different than going to a variety show in Branson or Pigeon Forge; you pay your money for the show, you sit and are entertained, you leave the exact same person you were when you went in.  

There's a story in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus is questioned about the idea of fasting.  The religious leaders had many traditions concerning fasting, and much was written in the Oral Law (though nothing was written in the Torah concerning fasting) concerning regular times of fasting. One of the religious leaders basically says to Jesus, "We're fasting all the time, how come your disciples aren't?"  Jesus tells them that they have no reason to mourn right now, but later they will and then they will fast.  Then he says something interesting:

"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.  Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins.  If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, they pour the new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

You may not see where this has any relevance to my argument, but let me explain.  The religious leaders were basically asking why he was rejecting tradition.  He was announcing that he was bringing a new approach to life.  One where you only do things like fasting when you feel led to do it.  He was telling them that they would never understand this, because they were functioning like old wineskins.  Their thinking, their approach to life, their approach to God was all based around following their traditions, even if they didn't mean it or understand why they were doing it.  

I see the American Church doing this.  I see the Church trying a lot of new things (or new wine), but they're pouring it into an old wineskin.  They're making a lot of good cosmetic changes to how they "do" church, but underneath, they are ignoring the real problem.  The biggest problem with the Church, in my opinion, is that it's consumeristic.  It's all about what we want and what makes us feel good.  It's about saving our eternal butts, while ignoring the real problems in the world.  Even when we say it isn't, it really is.  Look at how many people church-hop in America.  When we don't like something that happens at church, we leave and find another one.  When we don't "feel the Spirit" anymore (this is a fancy way of saying that we're not getting a spiritual high like we used to), we go and find a church that gives us our spiritual drug.  Well, this church doesn't have enough stuff for my kids to do, I'll go find a church that does, even though I'm supposed to be the one in charge of their spiritual development.  These are all symptoms of a Church that has sold out to the consumer, but as no idea why that might be a problem.  

So churches find snazzy things to get people to show up, to give them the drug they need, but they ignore the real issue.  They continue to make new wine (some of which is very good), but they're putting it into an old consumerist wineskin.  What the Church needs is a new wineskin, not just more new wine.  We need a whole new understanding of why the Church exists in the first place.  Why did God give the Church to the world (he didn't give it to us)?  Maybe he gave the world the Church so that the Church could help repair this worn-out, broken, crap-hole world that we find ourselves in the midst of.  Maybe he gave the world the Church because he knew that what people really needed wasn't more services to help them, but a group of people to show the world what his love looks like.  Maybe he gave the Church to the world because what this world desperately needed was a new wineskin.  

12:27 PM

New wine

Posted by Brad Polley |

I read a great post on Mark Riddle's blog today that got me thinking.  Read it now.  




Alright.  I agree with his sentiment.  In fact, I was just telling someone the other day that I think in the next 20 years, you'll see mega-churches collapsing in on themselves.  I don't wish that to happen because it means a lot of people out of work, but I will say that it might be for the best when it actually comes to the health of the American Church. You see, the American Church is nothing more than a vaguely Jesus-y copy of American culture.  American culture is based on consumerism, so is American Christianity.  The vast majority of Americans who attend church want the same thing that they want out of a restaurant or one of their favorite stores.  They want an experience, and they want services that are catered to their unique needs. The church is all-too-happy to oblige them by offering sports programs, coffee shops in their foyer, classes, music that fits their desires, etc., then attaching a Jesus stamp on it, thus making it "Christian."  To be fair, I don't think the American Church's motives are bad, I think (at least I hope) they generally want to help people and meet them where they are.  But what if they weren't actually helping people by doing all of this?  What if they were actually crippling them spiritually by catering to their every need?  

When Jesus, the one we are supposed to follow, lived a life of total selflessness, I'm not sure how catering to everyone's needs leads anyone down Jesus' path.  Sure, you may get people to intellectually commit to who Jesus said he was, but as far as actually teaching them to live in his way, forget about it.  You can't teach selflessness by stroking people's naturally selfish tendencies.  I heard someone say once that, "What you convert people with is what you convert them to."  In other words, if you convert someone to Jesus by means of consumerism, you've done nothing but put a Jesus stamp on their consumerism.  

I think Jesus had a lot to say along these lines that can give us some clarity on this topic, but I've written too much already.  More coming tomorrow, and it has to do with wine.      

8:55 AM


Posted by Brad Polley |

Is it possible to completely divorce your emotions from the process of following Jesus?  

11:08 AM

No really, America is in great shape

Posted by Brad Polley |