I listened to a talk (download here) this morning regarding how Christians ought to think about The DaVinci Code. Some of you may this is old news and we need to move on with other issues since the movie has proven to be a disappointment (on several levels).

However, in the talk something was mentioned that stuck in my mind. It is something I mentioned while teaching Sunday School yesterday on evangelism. It relates with Romans 1.18-25. As promised I will be posting on how to “do” evangelism.

Consider this my first post on the topic.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that men, in their unrighteousness suppress what they know to be true. That is, the myriad of discussions I have had with people who deny that God exists are suppressing the truth that they have ingrained in them (and which is easily perceived in the world). The issue for the Christian is not merely trying to show a non-believer that God exists, it is digging deeper into the person’s life and asking what the reason for their suppression of the truth.

When we have dialogues with people they are not coming to the conversation with a blank slate ready to be convinced. No, they are coming with a childhood where the youth pastor was jerk, church folk unrighteously judged, abuse, etc. In other words, these friends we are talking with have a myriad of reasons they don’t want to believe in God. Rather than press into God they foolishly blame him for sin in their life or in other’s lives. It’s easier that way.

By denying the existence of God I have no King who demands my joyful obedience. I can also seem pretty righteous because I’m not like “them.” I can feel intellectually superior because I don’t need the projection of religion (as Freud called it) or a crutch (as Mark penned).

Humans, by nature, are worshipers. The question is what does one worship. Paul tells us that the unrighteous “exchanged” worship of God for worship of another. He says creature. We should not interpret that as merely snakes, birds, elephants…we should also leave room for human beings.

This human worship is expressed either in falling over to touch the arm of a rock star. Or it’s expressed in watching every word and action so people affirm your social graces. Or it’s expressed in having all the right hand gestures when preaching. Or it’s expressed in how many people visit your blog. Okay, enough public confession.

My point comes to what was said in the DaVinci talk. The reason why The DaVinci Code has been so popular is due to the fact that worshipers will grasp for anything that gives the least bit of promise to free them from obedience to their Maker. Betrand Russell made the erroneous claim that it was not clear enough that God existed – from the facts on the ground. This is what Proverbs calls foolishness. It is like denying that air exists. More than this, it is rebellion.

The reason why The DaVinci Code (and future polemics against Christianity will) flourish is because humans will reach out in the dark for any tom-foolery that will enable them to worship themselves. It has been shown that so much of the blasphemies in The DaVinci Code have no ground to stand on, but people will still tout the claims as true. Skepticism seems so righteous to the fool.

Next post will be delving into how we can press the legitimacy and truth of Christianity’s claims into the questions and conscience of our friends.

[Disclaimer: I have seen the movie. I am not against reading the book. We need,however, to think critically and respond lovingly to honest questions.]

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.