Lord of the Bored?


No one is saying it, but someone has to: There are a lot of bored Christians out there.

What is American Evangelicalism's fascination with materialism and consumption? It's a cure for boredom. Why are the charismatics traveling like nomads in search of the next "spiritual" high? They're bored. Why are so many leaving their traditional churches in favor of postmodern or Emergent ones? They are looking for an escape from the boring.

The monster bestseller Wild at Heart by John Eldredge has at its very core the premise that Christian men are bored. Boredom leads to dissatisfaction and, eventually, the fruit of boredom, sin. On this he won't get any arguments from me, but is the solution to go hunt grizzlies with nothing more than a pointy stick? Is life simply about rescuing damsels in distress?

No, there is something more.

I think the "problem that dare not speak its name," the issue that so many Christians are struggling with, is a lack of connection to the Lord. Our churches are filled with people that simply are not experiencing the fullness of the Lord Jesus.

But why is this? What have we done to create a generation of disconnected and bored Christians?

The reasons are many, but five stand out:

1. Leadership. We like to think that everyone in America is an individual, but Jesus' assessment that we are like sheep has not skipped over this country. People still need good role models and leaders. But much of the leadership of churches today can't help people get to that next level of discipleship simply because they have never been there themselves. There has not been a true revival in America in almost a hundred years, and despite a few local revivals (that sadly stayed local), virtually no one pastoring a church today has seen a real revival. Subsequently, we don't know what one looks like, nor have we experienced the deep, abiding presence of Christ that falls on those who have been set aflame by revival. The people can't get there unless the leaders out there show us the map. Leaders, guide us!

2. Anti-supernaturalism. Some say that we are in a postmodern age, while others contend that modernism still reigns in the churches in America. Regardless, we still live in a largely secular world that has driven supernaturalism out of Western churches. If we do not believe that prayer can drive mountains into the sea, then we will absolutely never see that occur. What happened to our faith? Does anyone still believe that if we abide in Him and He in us, we can ask anything in His name and it will be done? I'm not talking Word of Faith craziness here, but simply taking the Lord at His word. What will the Lord do through us if we believe Him for the miraculous not just when miracles are needed, but at the core of our beliefs?

3. Love for the world. 1 John 2:15 has never changed:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

We can't get blood from a stone. If the world has calcified our hearts, then we need that heart of flesh restored in us, a heart that burns with love for Jesus—and Him as Lord over all we are. Yet why are so many Christians absolutely no different than the worldly? Sadly, this appeasement of culture by Christians and the culture's inevitable penetration of the churches in this country is being preached with greater intensity as a GOOD thing. How foolish! That Christians look and act no different from unbelievers is shameful. We are the aroma of Christ, not the foul stench of death! Instead, we have become like rats with electrodes wired to their brains, gratified by every push of the entertainment lever, a new wave of stimulation washing over our addled minds. How sad!

4. Higher criticism of the Bible. It's been more than a hundred years since German higher criticism washed up on the shores of America and crawled into our churches unannounced. The damage this has done to the authority of the Bible in the minds of the average person, Christian or not, is incalculable. When Christians don't believe the Bible speaks to every part of a man, nor that it is authoritative for learning and correction, what basis do we have for anything we say or do? How can the revealed truth of Scripture capture anyone's heart if even our church leaders don't truly believe it?

5. Time. We live in an age in which everything presses us for time. People are harried in an era labeled as The Age of Leisure. How then can we expect to reach that sacred place of standing before God on five minutes of prayer dashed off as we rush to work? In other times, people would be travailing on their knees for hours before the Throne of Grace, but does anyone reading this know anyone like that anymore? (Not only do I not know anyone like that, but far worse, I can't count myself as one of those people even though I once was.) But there is no instant discipleship. Those of us who seek it only find boredom when we fail to break through to God. Our lack of time committed to Christ can only lead us to lament our sorry states, questioning if God is even there.

And so we are bored. Bored with the Bible. Bored with our church meetings. Bored with the Lord. How that must break His heart! All eternity, the entirety of His own Self, ready to be revealed to those who press on, and yet so precious few do.

One thing I do know—those who press on to know the Lord are never bored. I pray that for all of us. Let us press on to know the Lord and put boredom behind us.

The Frankengospel


The bag of corn chips on the grocery store shelves trumpeted in bold print, "No GMOs! We use only 100% organic corn."

To many consumers, the rush to add the genetic material of jellyfish, mice, and whatever is the hot DNA of the day to our crops cruised in right under their radar. Here in the United States, most people took for granted that when they reached for a tomato at the grocery store they weren't buying a mutant loaded with the genes of something that had four legs and a complete lack of chlorophyll. But Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are now the talk the world over as scientists play God with the very seeds that sprout into what we eat. Those who claim we are going down a slippery path with our tinkerings have labeled foods that no longer contain the DNA the Creator intended "Frankenfood" in honor of Mary Shelley's manmade monstrosity. But those folks in the white lab coats do not like having their ox gored. They will just as quickly note the innocent truth that they are merely striving for better disease resistance, hardiness, and yields.

There is another kind of food that we are turning into a similar crime against the Creator. We in the Church are taking the seed of the Lord's Good News and transmogrifying it into something utterly devoid of life.

Jesus told a parable:

Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.
—Mark 4:3-8 ESV

We in the American Church need to come to grips with one startling fact: The sower's success rate was only 25%. Three-quarters of all the seed that was sown was ultimately lost or proven unfruitful.

But as Americans, we figure we can always improve a process. As Christians, we like to only think positively, too. So in our effort to do better than Jesus' example in His parable, we've formed a few committees and come up with the perfect solution to that atrocious 75% lack of productivity on the part of the seed; we'll modify the kernel altogether. A little genetic tweaking here or there can only help the cause, right?

The reasoning seems innocent at first. If we can add something to the seed so that it overcomes being eaten by birds, scorched by the sun, and choked by weeds, we will solve the problem of that awful 75% loss. And if that doesn't work, we can always subtract something else if we believe it will accomplish our ultimate purpose.

The problem is that we have tried modifying the truth of Jesus Christ in order to boost its perceived retention rate, succeeding only in creating a "Frankengospel."

We've all seen and heard the Frankengospel. It is characterized by its lack of Jesus, His missing cross, no mention of repentance, and the absence of the Holy Spirit. By these omissions, churches have successfully excised the troublesome parts from the sower's seed. Other churches have tried to overcome the perceived lacks in the seed by adding miraculous marketing techniques, appropriated business seminar know-how, heaps and heaps of weepy-eyed love, and laser lightshows that leave the lost slackjawed at the sheer entertainment value of it all.

If only those slick modifications to the simple seed produced the desired fruit. But it doesn't take a ThD for us to see that the Church in this country has lost its way. The results of our tinkering? Barrenness. Our land is empty, but we refuse to stop sowing our monstrosity.

The simple truth is that we lost faith in the seed itself. We foolishly thought there was something wrong with the whole Gospel. The reality is that Jesus Himself two thousand years ago sowed His seed straight from His own lips and yet it was largely scorned; the birds, sun, and thorns did their evil work. Who are we to think we can improve on our Master? (And let us not forget to give thanks to the Lord for the remaining seed that fell on good soil!)

The only way to counteract the empty, fruitless land that confronts us in America is to sow only the good seed, every part of it, and to sow it with renewed abandon and commitment. We cannot hope to raise the percentage yield beyond what the Lord Himself did, but if each of us shared the whole Gospel of Jesus with enough people, we would each probably need just three of those people coming to salvation in our lifetimes in order to miraculously change the entire world for Christ.

We don't need a Frankengospel. All we need is the true Gospel, the life-giving whole of it, told with joy and enthusiasm, and empowered by the Spirit, to meet the Great Commission.