The World Desires an Idea, but Needs a Savior
Throughout history, people have sought after the idea that would make the world a better place. Our country was founded on the idea of freedom. Wars have been fought in the names of liberty and peace. In the 1960's we sought exploration (in space), then we thought love was the answer, tolerance, the right to express ourselves any way we see fit, and more recently, the simple idea of happiness.
Each idea is attractive in its own right. Each pursuit seemingly noble. After all, if there was true world peace, wouldn't all of humanity be better off? Shouldn't everyone be free to express themselves, their love, and their rights any way they choose? As a people we all have different desires, wouldn't everyone be happier if we could pursue them without judgement?
But as history teaches us, ideas are temporary. People are quick to rally around them. Even raise a figure to prominence who embodies the popular idea of the moment. Someone who can lead the charge and bring the idea to fruition.
In the Bible, even the people of Israel were in love with an idea: a king. They were enamored by the idea of an earthly king; a person who they could look to, trust, and who would bring order and happiness to their lives. It was an idea the entire country could get behind.
But once their request was granted, they learned the idea of having a king was much more attractive than actually having a king. An earthy king is a human being: fallible and imperfect. Once again, reality did not meet their expectation of the idea.
This is the case even today. No matter how lofty and promising an idea can be, once it is made a reality, it cannot live up to the hype. Even with all the freedoms we so eagerly desire, in the end this world is made up of people. Even the most perfect idea will be implemented by imperfect, prone to jealousy and hatred, people.
So what is the answer? Have we simply not discovered the one idea that will make this world a better place? Do we just need to find the person, high on a mountaintop, who has the idea to change our world for good?
No. It is not an idea we should be seeking, nor a person to represent one. The answer is Jesus. Not a man, but God.
The generations entering adulthood now dismiss Him. But it's not really the person they are dismissing, it's the idea of church. I am a part of this generation. The generation of people who grew up in church, or knowing of church, yet the idea of church is toxic.
Others in my generation heard the message of Christ proclaimed by their parents, only to see them divorce years later. We saw selflessness and charity spoken from the pulpit, yet only greed and corruption behind closed doors. We heard "love your neighbor as yourself," but witnessed our fellow Christians gossip and tear each other down.
Whatever truth was in the gospel, we have buried it under years of failing to actually be Christ-like. Jesus is now synonymous with the idea of church, and to most of this generation, that seems like a terrible idea.
Now, churches are still under the belief that getting someone in the door will "save them." The problem is, most of the people they are seeking after with programs, productions, and small groups, have already been to church. They know the lingo, and they know the stories. But once this generation passes by, the next will know even less. Only enough to dismiss the Bible as a book of fairy tales and put Jesus in the same category as Rumpelstiltskin.
If you're hoping that by the end of this you'll get a "Five Ways to Reach Millennials" listicle, you'll need to look elsewhere. Personally, I don't know what needs to be done. But what I see are people who have read enough of the Bible, and are familiar enough with the idea of church to know they want nothing to do with it. To them, the Bible represents hatred, exclusion and judgment.
Maybe that's because we, as Christians, have been portraying those qualities for years.
(Part I of )