Reading through the stories on Christian news sites is really depressing.
Back when I went to teacher’s college in the 1990s, there was this trendy nonsense: “It’s process, not product.” When some of the professors started saying that about our classwork, too, it was an obvious lie. It was always about the product, but they felt compelled to echo the propaganda. Only a few dim-witted students bought into that nonsense because no one could do it.
But it’s no different with church activities. Christians have been promoting that same lie for centuries. When you scan the latest stories on sites claiming to offer specifically Christian oriented news stories, you get inundated with stuff about the products: better efficiency, more people joining the program, more donations coming into the program, bigger names attached to the program, more precise theology, etc. Oh, and of course, the Lord added to their numbers daily, they say with all pious reverence.
All of those stories are about religion, not faith. Yes, it’s the same old thing of perverting the word “faith” by adding tons of baggage tied to human religious activity. Their faith is in the religious activity, not in the God who speaks convictions to the individual heart.
So-n-so died and she was such a saint, except she wasn’t; she was a gold-digging buffoon just like her famous TV husband. Some preacher with a franchise of dozens of megachurch facilities warns other preachers not to build too many too fast when their ministry starts to grow — he doesn’t like competition. This new book will help you teach your congregation how to give more to missions. That same book pretends to elevate to sainthood somebody who went to some heathen land on CIA sponsorship, pretending to be a missionary. Some famous TV preacher spouts more hateful “prophecy” and never admits that his ministry provided cover in Africa for several different government spying agencies. And yet another big church minister wraps his greedy and hateful rhetoric in the US flag so folks won’t notice someone on his staff used their church office computer to trade in child porn.
Here’s the difference: You and I know how badly broken we are and confess it openly when appropriate. We don’t pretend to be saintly examples. We struggle with our own sins daily. But we tend to believe that such is the whole purpose and meaning of faith. We need no monuments to our religious stardom. Our religion is shaped to turn our own lives around, because we know there is absolutely no other way we can help anyone else. We don’t try to impress folks with numbers, facilities and money, but with how powerful faith can be when you abandon all that other stuff.
Faith is in the process, not the products man can measure.