Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beyond Practical

Still reviewing Peterson's Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places. Now I’m at the beginning, but it seems to be a common theme for Peterson – at least he touches on it a few times in this book. We can’t over-program life or people. Rather than programs, we need an awe of God. Listen in:

In dealing with God, we are dealing in mystery, in what we do not know, what we cannot control or deal with on our terms. We need to know this, for we live in a world that over-respects the practical. We want God to be ‘relevant’ to our lifestyle. We want what we can, as we say, ‘get a handle on.’ There is immense peer pressure to reduce God to fit immediate needs and expectations. But God is never a commodity to use. In a functionalized world in which we are all trained to understand ourselves in terms of what we can do, we are faced with a reality that we cannot control. And so we cultivate reverence. We are in the presence of One who is both before and beyond us (p. 46).
I think, as I communicate the gospel, that this “peer pressure” of which Peterson speaks is very real. It isn’t all bad, but there’s a temptation to simplify things so there’s a “take home” step. In many ways that’s good … if the text leads them there. But there are some times (probably more than I communicate) where the “take home” is to stand in awe of God, to cultivate a “fear-of-the-Lord” in Peterson’s language.

Are you looking for a “take home” when you hear a sermon, or even read your Bible, or are you more interested in entering into the mystery and sitting with an “impractical” sermon that gives you a grander vision of God? I admit being torn on this one. You?

1 comment:

Lee Jones said...

I want what the text says and reveals about God. If there is a clean take-home, then by all means I expect to see that preached. And if not, I still expect an effort to be made to explain the meaning of the text in a take-home way, especially if we can communicate the awe.

The problem is, something that awe is only accessible to those who have studied the text. In such cases, it seems necessary to explain the steps of learning that the study take us through that helped us appreciate and be in awe of God.

An example for me is the word "Immanuel." When I read it in Hebrew for the first time, it filled me with awe. God with us! How do you communicate that?