A collision of theology and reality

doing my regular sunday night reading of tweets and posts,  i came across this one:

“i can’t believe what god did at our church today!”

the author of the tweet is a pastor of a mega-hip, super-sized church here is the U.S.   after reading a little more in various places,  i found out he was referring to some absolutely crazy amazing numbers of people who were saved at his church today…along with mind-boggling numbers of people in attendance.

and god did it.

i have a really close friend of mine who, when asked how things are going in his church family,  has been known to say,  “god is kicking some major butt around our place!”  wow.

now i’m all for god doing unbelievable things.  and i’m definitely down for god kicking butt.  it’s even ok with me if he takes a few prisoners along with way, for good measure.

i know i’ve said this before,  but i’m just feelin’ like walking down this road again tonight.   i’m not sure if these pastors really mean what they’re saying, but it sure sounds like they want us to believe that god is making the good things happen at their churches.   who wouldn’t want to believe that?  it sounds pretty spiritual.   god is all-powerful…all-knowing…in control of everything.

theologically, i’ve got some bones to pick with this teaching.   but i’ll stay away from the doctrinal stuff.   for now,  i’ll just pick at what’s inferred:  when good (ridiculously crazy wicked bombdiggity) stuff happens in a church meeting,  god is making it happen.   so who’s behind what happens for the rest of us?

and if god is really into making outrageously radical things happen, why isn’t he doing this all the time…for all of us?   i guess he just wants good things to happen sometime…and not-so-good things to happen at other times.   what’s a pastor to do?   it’s enough to make a grown man cry…calvinism!

if you’re keeping score, here are the things god made happen at the weekly north point family reunion:

the lingering smell of “raccoonapalooza” was decidedly better…

i’m guessing the offering baskets were not overflowing.  the counting didn’t take very long…

buzzy led singing with something weird going on in his head.   he said it was weirder than normal…

we didn’t get to hear doug’s cool electronic drum beat on 10,000 reasons.   what’s up with that, braz?

i heard we had a kid go “mike tyson” on one of our sunday school teachers.   you don’t want to mess with our sunday school teachers.  just sayin’…

i completely lost control of the 11:15 crowd during my sermon.   we’re going to have some “behind the woodshed” moments pretty soon.   beware.

i found out tonight that somebody spilled one of those 96oz big gulps of dr. pepper while i was preaching.  so that explains the massive loss of attention.   well…at least some of the loss of attention…

pretty sure my sermon illustration on slang terms for “cool” from the eighties created a spike in grand ballroom texting like we’ve never seen on a sunday morning…

i took ownership…and openly repented…of thoughtlessly planning full house sunday on the first weekend of deer hunting season.    what was i thinking?  so glad our gun-slinging brothers are quick to forgive…

rain,  the rangers 12:00 home game,  rampant illness,  opening day of bow-hunting season,  the schedules of tired and over-worked parishoners…all caused attendance to tank today.

was god doing some awesomely amazing things at north point today?   i’m not really sure.   but i know he was there.  i know he was worshipped.   i know the name of jesus was lifted up.   i know we shared communion and sang pretty loud and prayed and confronted the truth of scripture and interacted with each other in healthy ways.

whatever it was that god was doing,  i’m ok with it.

i’m pretty sure he was ok with us, too.

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4 thoughts on “A collision of theology and reality

  1. Numbers is just one indication of change, for good or bad. The real question for us is did the change happen because we were in God’s will or our own. In God’s will = God kicking butt. Our own will = not so much.

  2. Good post! Very thought-provoking for me. As a preacher’s kid who’s planning to go into ministry, at first I was a little concerned with where you might go. I like to never speak badly of a pastor, unless I believe he’s teaching heresy. I really believe they are anointed men of God who deserve our respect, prayers, and support as they shepherd God’s flock. (Granted there are some who aren’t anointed, but who am I to decide which is which? If they teach truth, I support them!) Glad to see that you didn’t speak negatively of them though, 🙂
    We (the church, ministers, church leaders) do tend to claim that God is at work when we see good things happening, and that the devil is at work when we see bad things happening. But the truth is we really don’t know the mind of God–which things He caused to happen, or which things He simply allowed to happen. And the truth is that He’s ALWAYS at work, whether good OR bad things are happening.
    I think we also need to remember that human sinfulness affects things too (i.e.that kid that went “mike tyson” on one of your sunday school teachers). I wouldn’t really say that was caused by God, OR the devil. People make choices & decisions that affect every day living….

    As I said, really good post, and quite thought-provoking! Thanks for sharing!

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