Yesterday was a Sunday. I skipped church.
I didn’t go because I knew what the message topic would be, and I’m burned out on that topic. Seared to a crackly crunch burned out. That the topic just happens to coincide with a major initiative push within the church only further carbonized me.
Honestly, I think I’m also burned out on topical preaching. The Church in America largely moved to topical preaching with the advent of the megachurch model, and as a result, we have no idea how all of Scripture fits together anymore. The Bible has been reduced to a book of wise sayings about certain topics. That the entire narrative arc of God’s interaction with mankind and our relationship with Him has gone missing as a result of piecemeal teaching of topics is lost on far too many church leaders.
If we want to know why people are leaving the Christian Church in America, part of it is because they never hear the whole story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. An entire generation has been raised in the American Church without any concept of that old, old story. As a result they have no clue how they fit into that story. And as a result, whenever a competing set of topical advice comes along to war with the Bible’s topical advice, not much resistance to the upstart competition is offered.
Facts are useful only if we see the big picture. If your car isn’t running, do you want a mechanic who can only quote crankshaft specs at you? Or do you want one who understands how an obvious problem in the crankshaft may cause a hidden problem with the transmission? We want people who understand how the whole system works together, don’t we?
So it is with the Christian faith. Unless we understand how it works together so elegantly as an ongoing story of God’s love for us, we won’t have the ability to flex with and withstand the times. We might understand a topic in part, but the whole will still be lost on us, the nature of relationship buried under advice on how to do this and don’t do that.
You know what I want to hear about on Sunday? Jesus.
Can we talk just about Jesus for once? The Bible says that knowing the Father and the Son IS eternal life. Since that is true, knowing our trinitarian God could not be more important. There is no topic that trumps it. No amount of teaching on marriage, money, or mammon can surpass knowing Jesus.
And the funny thing is, if we really teach Jesus, the story of creation, fall, redemption and restoration all begins to fall into place. It all starts to make sense. It all works together in a synergy that creates faith, wisdom, and spiritual strength. Even those piecemeal topics start sticking with us. Because now they have a framework, a foundation. And that framework/foundation is Jesus. Only when we understand Him and His story does everything else make sense.
You know what else? Your story of Jesus has value to me. Not just the pastor’s story, but yours. Mine has value to you too. Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear those stories? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see your story and mine fit within that greater Story?
Yes, I think they would be so excellent to hear. Now if only we could find some time in church on Sunday to squeeze them in.