I bet that title scared you for a second, especially if you are dyslexic and the letters showed in an order that looked all too familiar,
Don’t worry. I am not starting this post off with an expletive or even a near miss.
I wrote my title backwards for a reason. There are times that I grow weary of meaningless buzzwords or catchphrases. Some of the current examples that are bringing about my fatigue in the Christian circles are:
- We gotta redeem the culture
- Let’s redeem the time
- We need to redeem our communities
I may not have worded those in the same manner that you have heard them but they get the general thought across. Churches everywhere are trying to redeem anything and everything.
Now, I am not saying that there aren’t good intentions behind some of the these catchy practices but sometimes I wonder if there is anything substantial in understanding what it is the people leading the charge are trying to accomplish.
Many times the actions linked to these catch phrases appear to be carbon copies of activities or experiences that can be found in the secular world. And, sadly, there are times that they are poor copies.
I wonder, if like my title, we get our focus backward. Maybe in the our American, fast-food mentalities, we are in such a hurry to see results that we focus on producing a byproduct instead of the product itself.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. In Galations we can read about the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace… and so on. As a believer in the bible, I may be lead to think that it is my job to exhibit those behaviors and so I begin to work on being peaceable or more loving or having more joy. I start to do activities that help me bring about these changes in my life. However, in my will to exhibit these behaviors in order to look more like a good Christian, I have forgotten that these fruit are of the Spirit. They are by-products of His activity in my life.
Sure, in my own power, I can fool you by making it appear that I have it all together but in reality I may be a jittery mess from trying to accomplish all the tasks that I have set before myself in order to have those fruit apparent in my life. In the end it is just empty activity because they are really false fruit of me instead of fruit of the Spirit.
So, what if in our attempts to redeem our culture, communities, and people, we have had the focus in the wrong place? Is there a chance we are expending meaningless energy?
I don’t know the answer to those questions.
Though this I can see as evidence in the book of Acts, the early church didn’t seem to be trying to redeem the culture, or communities, or people. Instead they created a new culture and a new community as byproducts of the new life that they had in the Holy Spirit. There was something so genuine about this experience that more people were redeemed.
I wonder if in our focus on the byproduct we may actually be more conformed to the world – maybe instead of redeeming the culture the culture is infecting us. Do we start looking for our own purpose, significance, or legacy when we try to follow that catchphrase wave?
Christ said this – But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.
You know, I don’t think His kingdom is a byproduct of our efforts to accomplish our wills.
Do we have some things backwards?