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.