How Did We Manage to Make God Boring?

(Hey all, I’m still in Hungary and although updates are a little harder on

image my iPad, I wanted to keep in touch with a short post!)

For the past 3 weeks I have had the opportunity to travel around Europe chaperoning high school students on an educational trip outside the class room. Part my responsibilities as the school chaplain is to have periodic devotionals where I lead the kids in a reflection time of their experiences and (try) to connect it to a relationship with God.

I figured I’d start with the churches because, let’s face it, we’re in Europe and we’ve seen a lot of churches.

I began by sharing with the students a story from Brian Zahnd’s Beauty will Save the World when he tells of Prince Vladimir of Kiev who sent out emissaries a thousand years ago to surrounding nations. Their task was to see what religions other countries were using as he was seeking a national faith that would unite his people.

They returned telling tales of various foreign religions; some were theoretical, some were austere, and still others were just plain dour.

But the emissaries returning from Constantinople reported about their encounter with Christianity:

Then we went to Constantinople and they led us to the place where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or earth, for on earth there is no such vision nor beauty, and we do not know how to describe it; we only know that God dwells among men. We cannot forget that beauty.

I explained to the students that churches in Europe were designed to reveal the beauty and majesty of God. They were to be places where one experienced heaven and earth colliding.

So then I asked the kids to describe how they felt when they entered some of these beautiful church buildings.

“WOW” said one student.
“Huge” said another.
“Beautiful” said still another and then finally,
“Elegant”

I told the group those were great descriptions but then I asked them, “How many of you walked into one of these churches and instead of thinking ‘Wow, Huge, Beautiful, and Elegant’ thought to yourself, ‘You know, I really need to be a better person’.

The kids laughed of course. To have that response to such a display of beauty would be absurd.

And yet, by and large, this has been the response many Christians have been conditioned to have when having an encounter with the Living God; “Well, I guess I better get my act together.”

The problem is that when the attention and focus is on us, we lose the “WOW” of who Christ is and what he has done. The transformative power of a “Huge”, “Beautiful”, and “Elegant” God who brings dead things to life and re-boots corrupted human systems gets replaced with “sin management”, guilt, and an endless cycle of accountability and confession.

(Not to mention all those alter calls)

I don’t know about you, but I am trying to connect these kids to the God of the “WOW”. When people see the “WOW”…when they see that everything is about Jesus and what he’s done to bring heaven back to earth…well
…everything else then just has a way of falling into place.

3 comments

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  • Looks like you are having Fun. Love the way you looked at the WOW factor of an encounter with God. With Peter, the result was, “What shall we do to meet this person you are talking about?” (my own version)!

  • Mary Cassady

    Reply

    Yes, so much else falls into place (or away altogether !) with the wonder and amazement at who He is and even the smallest glimpse of what He does! Blessings to you Steve. I’m enjoying your blog a lot. In the 50’s my family rented a house at 33 Tung Tau Wan Rd. I think there was a village nearby called Stanley. Also nearby was a beach and a large building of some kind that used to house Japanese prisoners of war. When I Ggogle earthed (?) Our address it did not look like the house we lived in- guess things do change after a half century! Gotta go get ready for church, will share some of my child’s memories of Hong Kong later. So, here’s today….WOW! :)))

    • Steve

      Reply

      Mary,

      Thanks so much for sharing that as well as your experience in Hong Kong! God Bless you!

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