Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fighting Complacency

I was going to write about fighting complacency but then realized that it was just going to be literatic diarrhea for the sake of doing something... kinda strange when you think about it. In any case, I'm not going to inflict that on you.

Instead I'll tell you about church from a week and a half ago. I was going to a church I hadn't been to before (seems to happen about every other week), which is often an interesting and tiring way to spend a Sunday. I thought that I should talk on Galatians but couldn't figure out what passage to target. After a few minutes it dawned on me that Galatians, as well as most New Testament books, was a letter that was written to a community and was meant to be understood in its entirety. Solution: preach the entire book in about an hour while using an interpreter (this would actually be a great challenge to throw down in a homiletics class).

The result was a really fun hour of preaching and teaching, outlined by Paul and the Holy Spirit, which seemed to keep the majority of the people in the church attentive and connected (I have both slept and put people to sleep in church before, so from a selfish perspective I counted this as a win). After talking about authority from God, the true and only gospel, getting bewitched, the faithfulness OF Jesus in his salvific work for us, the presence of the Holy Spirit in us that is the reality of our familial relationship with God, the goodness and simultaneous deadness of the law, being motivated by the law of love, and being accountable to being in line with the Spirit and gospel of God rather than some perceived list of rules and regulations, the leadership told me that this message was for the church. No kidding right? But then they expanded on it saying that they were struggling with the issue of people from the church going to witchdoctors in an attempt to get fixes and sort things out according to the world view that they had grown up with.

Paul had spoken against teachers who claimed human authority and appealed to traditions and culture saying, in an intentional exaggeration, that they must be using witchcraft to pull the new believers back into legalism. Oddly enough, 1900+ years later that same message, with the same emphasis also spoke to a community that was being entrapped by literal witchcraft. As I think about it now, I cant help but acknowledge that it is the Spirit of God that gives power and direction to the words that we use and the way people hear us. Had I known that returning to witchcraft was one of the issues that the community was struggling with I probably would have taken an entirely different direction, meanwhile the Spirit was there going "Oooo, I know what will work."

I guess that this is all just one more example of how God uses our ignorance and obedience to accomplish the stuff he wants to. Having a clue can sometime be overrated.