A Brief Response to Matt Chandler (and All Pastors)
The traffic to my blog has dropped significantly…down from averaging 250-300 views a day to a mere couple dozen views. I think WordPress finally realized that I missed a few days on this #postaday2011 tag, so the traffic has been adjusted accordingly. But, in my defense, I’ve blogged more often than those who have strictly followed the #postaday2011 rules. Oh well.
Quick blog post.
I’m a fan of Matt Chandler. I credit him, Mark Driscoll, and one or two others with basically saving my faith in the last couple of years. If it wasn’t for their preaching, godly example, and emphasis on honesty and doctrine, well, I’d probably not still be a Christian today. I’ve been listening to Matt Chandler regularly for the last two to three years via podcast. It’s rare when I don’t agree with him and come away from one of his messages feeling encouraged, strengthened, and as if God is really speaking to me. I love him and his ministry, and would gladly sit under his leadership any day.
I just listened to Chandler’s ninth sermon from the book of Habbakuk, which was preached (or uploaded to iTunes) on April 3. Halfway through, he asks the important question: “Why don’t we (or at least so many of us) long for, yearn, and pursue Christ with all of our might?” He then proceeds to go through the typical list of reasons why most American pastors believe young people don’t earnestly seek God, and I agree with his list: gospel assaults lies we believe, “we believe we aren’t good enough” (which is very true, he points out), laziness, bad ideas, contentment, the appeal of sin, don’t have the “weight of glory”, etc. All are valid reasons and are certainly true in various amounts in people.
But I think the list is incomplete. I’d put forward that another reason why so many my age are not willing to deeply yearn for Christ and the things of God is because of the Church. While many pastors like to talk about how it’s become “fashionable” to bash on the Church lately, that is starting to come across as a sidestep to avoid responsibility and looking too closely at just where the failings of the Church are and where most people’s complaints may be legitimate.
Let’s look at the last twenty five years of church history:
• we’ve seen countless fads come and go, all supposed to make us yearn more for Christ
• we’ve seen the rise and fall of the Moral Majority, so implied to us growing up, if we want to truly yearn for Christ, we need to become politically corrosive, senseless, conservative jerks for Jesus
• we’ve seen scandal after scandal rock the Church of those who by all outward appearances yearned for Christ the most
• we’ve watched the infighting between Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and other factions within the Church by those who yearned for Christ
• we’ve seen the definitions of what it means to be a good Christian constantly shift and change by those who yearn for Christ
• we’ve seen the rise of the Seeker Sensitive movement and the widespread biblical illiteracy that follows those who yearn for Christ
• we’ve seen the rise of the Emergent Church and its sole focus on yearning for Christ to the exclusion of biblical literacy
and that’s just a start.
I agree with Matt Chandler. I know in my own life, I don’t earnestly yearn for Christ at times because I am feeling lazy, or I misunderstand the gospel (people’s teaching to me of what is sin vs temptation has really screwed me up) and thus run from Christ instead of pursuing him, or worse, let the theological lies I’ve heard begin to convince me that I’m worthless apart from some second work of grace. But I also know that most of us are tired of the rat race of modern Christianity. We don’t earnestly yearn for Christ because it has been falsely assumed by all of us that we would have to become our parents, our leaders, and/or those people we don’t want in any way to be a part of or be like at all. This is not simple rebellion against authority, this is a recognition that our authority is not worth following, merely honoring. That’s why we, as a generation, have begun to look forward for ideas (emergents), or backwards to a generation preceeding our parents. In many ways, the problem is the Baby Boomers and 60s generation; they screwed everything up. But until they are dethroned from power, the rhetoric will always go back towards “youthful rebellion” or “desires of the flesh” as to why we aren’t earnestly seeking Christ.
But that’s simply a lie. We all want Christ. But we want Christ on our terms, namely “not yours”. The desires of the flesh may keep many away from Christ and the Church, but that’s doesn’t nullify the fact that the Church has been largely fucked up the past few decades, and many people are just tired of it. We aren’t bashing Christ’s bride no more than Luther, Calvin, or other reformers did; we love the Bride, just want her to stop acting like a fool and return to her one true Love.
Thus, I put my hope in Christ and those individuals and churches who seem to have it mostly put together. People like Matt Chandler, God bless him. I understand Chandler may not see things quite as I do, but we are largely on the same page; he and I just don’t have the same history and haven’t seen the same things. But I know we agree on the solutions.
Let’s quit pointing fingers, acknowledge every possible area where the blame may lie, and start moving forward.