The cost of dead religion is all around us. We often see lifeless congregations going through the motions.
It’s sad, because we wish we saw vibrant communities of brothers and sisters in Christ, demonstrating supernatural transformation, as they humbly serve their communities in the name of Jesus. That’s what I want, but how often do I experience it?
This isn’t to judge others. How often do we go through the motions - without a sense of knowing God and dynamically engaging with him in our daily lives?
Why is there so much dead religion?
There are many reasons, but Ken Boa elucidates one:
Spiritual truth eludes us when we limit it to the conceptual realm and fail to internalize it. We dilute it through cultural, emotional, and theological filters and reduce it to a mental construct that we affirm more out of orthodoxy than out of profound personal conviction" (Conformed to His Image, p. 15).
The occupational hazard of theologians is to become so engrossed in the development of systematic models of understanding that God becomes an abstract intellectual formulation they discuss and write about instead of a living person they love on bended knees (p. 16).
It’s like visiting The Grand Canyon. For context, here’s a photo of the Grand Canyon. It’s majestic!
The size and magnificence of it is so overwhelming that you can never fully experience it all. I remember going as a teenager with my family. We had a remarkable trip - we even rode mules to Phantom Ranch! I was stunned by the beauty - and a bit scared of falling off the side of the trail!
Now imagine if instead of taking it all in, I insisted on gluing my eyes to a cheap videocamera, and only looked at the Grand Canyon through the viewfinder. I would miss everything that made this a special place.
This is the best metaphor I have for what it is like to encounter God - and dilute the experience down to the manageable but now cheapened statement, “God is love.”
Yea, God is love. But that sentence, as true as it is, hardly communicates the reality to which it points.
I’m curious… what are the ways in which you have softened and sentimentalized the wild Otherness and Awesomeness of God?