So, I got an invitation to church in the mail today.
On the front, it says, “Coming Soon! To the East Valley. Join us…for the launch of the East Valley Campus.”
On the back, it says, “Helping you WIN AT LIFE – Join us for our Grand Opening experience as we kickoff a brand new four-week series called My Family.”
That, along with logos and web site addresses, is my invitation.
One thing one notices when exploring our family through history is that every generation sees the Biblical truths of Jesus morphed by the influences of the culture. In the ancient church, the theology was bloody. During the last days of the Empire, it was Imperial. The Middle Ages found us nervous and desperate. The Reformation made us bookish. The Enlightenment made us proud of our ideas. The Industrial Revolution made us machine-like. The days of the revivals have made us crowd loving emotionalists, and the post-war era urged us to be somewhat complacent.
Well, our modern era would have our faith become something that helps us “Win at Life.” That makes sense. It fits in with all of our triggers. From the time I entered kindergarten, I was on a path toward self-fulfillment — through education (“space technology, working for me!”), our world was progressing, and all I had to do was get on board, and enjoy the American Dream. The land of opportunity has provided all the means by which I can be “a winner!” My job. My family. My home. My toys. My retirement. My “good life.”
So, it only makes sense that the church of today should morph to serve these ideals. After all, I do want to win. I don’t want to be a loser. I want to be first, not last. I want servants, not to serve. I want contentment, not a cross of suffering. The right kind of gospel for this generation is a Jesus who died, so I won’t have to. Instead of dying to self, I get to win.
I have no doubt that the new church will do very well numerically, and in terms of gathering a slough of enthusiastic customers.
I wish them the best. Not success, but the best. Maybe a return to the best. Loss.
“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:8-11