Confusing Dross for Gold


As I write, 53 is staring me in the face. I used to think that was old. Or at least, likely to place you in the group of “not with the times.” Out of touch. Maybe even a little confused by all the cool, happenin’ stuff the kiddies dig. You with me, man? Groovy.

So, recently…

I watched a 47-minute video on the simplicity of the Gospel in which the preacher didn’t once, to my recollection, state what the Gospel was. And if I was somehow lost in my befuddled dotage for the one time he may have briefly zoomed through it, he certainly did not go into any detail. Instead, he regaled us with numerous stories about the bang-up job he did personally ministering this mysterious gospel-thingy to random people he encountered. I wondered if those people got a clearer picture of the Gospel in those encounters with him than I did in the video.

My son said that in a similar meeting his group talked about the origins of Cain’s wife. Because teenagers around the world are giving up on a personal relationship with Jesus and wandering away from the faith because no one shared with them the facts behind Mrs. Cain’s being.

I sang a “worship song” that had me beseeching for the rain to fall on me. Or us. The plurality of the intended recipient(s) of that wetness is unclear to me now (again, the beginnings of dementia, I believe), as is the intent of being rained upon by what/whom and for what purpose. Still, after I was done singing, I felt like a full-blown pluviculturist.

Meanwhile, the media is telling me that Christians are up in arms—heaven knows my arms are tired from always being up about something—because of Starbucks’ red holiday cups. Of course, this has friends of mine who aren’t Christians belittling that up-in-arms-ness, whether actual Christians are upset by this or couldn’t care less. Somewhere, a Christian is miffed, so this is news and must be reported upon.

Somewhere else, a pastor is up-in-arms (there we go again) about consumeristic Christians picking and choosing churches like they pick which roast of coffee (served in a Christless red cup, no doubt) they prefer. Then those ingrates stop coming every week, like they’re supposed to. Because, consumerism. What sinners in need of repentance! This, of course, blames the people in the pews for reacting to the various marketing ploys hatched up by certain church leaders in an effort to draw more folks to their church rather than to the church across the street. Call it “The Great Church Growth Arms Race” (or “Mutually Assured Destruction, Christian Style”—as the case may be), as church leaders add one more thing they think will grab folks and then blame those folks for succumbing to the lure.

{ Insert colorful expletive here }

SlagWhen I was a kid, my brothers and I collected rocks. We even had a cool display of different types of raw gemstones and minerals.

One day, I encountered one of the showiest hunks of rock I had ever seen. It had layers of color, shimmered in the light, and featured weird, bubbly extrusions. Fascinating, but I could not identify it. A meteorite? Whatever it was, it just HAD to be priceless.

At a gem and mineral show, a lapidarist informed me it was a piece of slag.

The term the Bible employs for slag is dross. It’s waste left over from smelting precious metals. As leftovers from the real thing, it may look cool, but it’s still waste and therefore worthless.

I wonder if somewhere along the line, we Christians, in an effort to refine what we knew to be gold, wound up valuing the dross instead. I can’t make sense of life anymore unless I come to this conclusion. Nothing else fits.

After a while, you wonder if you’re the one off-kilter. That there’s something wrong with you when you find dross and recognize it for what it is, but everyone else thinks it’s beautiful and valuable. You begin to doubt if you still have all your aggies, jaspers, and swirlies.

I think the world is getting stranger, especially for the discerning Christian. More and more fellow Christians will confuse dross for gold as life gets more bizarre, and the discerning folks will be left baffled by their fellows’ confusion.

Nothing good ever comes to the person who says in public, “Hey, wait a sec, that ain’t right….” At least from an earthly perspective that’s true.

At one point, I questioned whether we should say anything. Perhaps silent, internal acknowledgment proved the best response.

But now, I think born-again Christians who are led by the Spirit must graciously, winsomely, and lovingly point out to fellow Christians that that object of admiration their fellows hold in their hands is most likely waste and not the pure gold they should treasure.

In an age when all correction meets with anger, it is certain that such speaking will not generate thank you’s, but it must be done. Again and again and again. Or else, we will all lose our minds, and quite possibly our souls too.

On Leaving a Church


With many things on my plate right now, I want to direct you all to a conversation going on at In the Clearing about leaving church. It’s a tough issue, but an important one that needs discussion.

The first post there raised the issue of leaving. I responded. Bob, the owner of the blog and a very solid man of God, responded to my first comment in a second post. I commented on that second post, too. You can recognize my comments by the initials.

If you wish to leave comments here about the topic of leaving a church or would like to respond to my comments over at the other blog, please do.

Like Unto Him


Lately I have been struck by all the division I see within the Church, especially in America. Many people are abandoning their churches and either moving to another one or starting their own. I’m not sure we Christians are growing in numbers across the country, but we sure seem to be hopping churches like mad.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that all we are doing is dividing ourselves into ever smaller—and potentially less effective—particles of Christianity. I can’t believe this is what Christ had in mind for His bride.

And this takes me back to the crux of the problem: What does Jesus have in mind for the Church?

God’s thoughts are far beyond any mere man’s, but the promise of the Bible is that as we mature, we become more like Jesus – and that means we think more like Him. Given that His thoughts are not a jumble of divergent theologies, I’ve got to believe that as true Christians grow in Christ we begin to take on Christ’s mind, therefore beginning to not only look and think more like Him, but also more like each other. For if each person who claims Christ’s name is growing in Him, we should all begin to think along the same lines as our Master. The natural recourse of this is that divisions should be decreasing, not increasing, as we take on the mind of Christ.

It’s a simple transitive math theory: If A=Jesus and B=Jesus, then A=B.

Extrapolate that out for all the variables that bear the mark of Jesus and you have one inescapable conclusion. The more each Christian looks like Jesus, the more he/she looks like the rest of those in the Body of Christ.

Now this does not eliminate our gifting differences, our talents, our personalities, or even the fact that we tend to emphasize different portions of the walk of Faith differently from one to another, but it does mean that we all come to a single Truth.

Church, are we in line with a single Truth? Do you believe a single Truth exists that governs the life of the believer and makes us of one mind?