Monday, July 30, 2007

The Title


Many years ago a man of high office in my church organization made this statement about our movement.

"The Assemblies of God is a mile wide and an inch deep".

His comments came out of a sermon he had prepared to challenge us to merge the head and the heart together. The Assemblies of God has long been known for the openess to experiencing God with the whole heart, emotions. feelings. The challenge of the speaker was that we not allow our feelings to be the primary directive for our spiritual lives.

What was said that night to the leadership of the Assemblies of God organization is true of American culture as well. We are a culture of feelings and emotions. Moved to tears by a 20 second story on the news that may well later prove to be untrue or a mis-representation of facts altogether. Too late though we have already shed tears and sent money and repeated the story multiple times to as many people as we could get to listen.

A mile wide and an inch deep when we hate the congress but continuously re-elect our congressmen. A mile wide and and inch deep when we send our sons to war but demand that they fight it politically correct. A mile wide and an inch deep when we buy carbon credits so we can ease our conscience. A mile wide and an inch deep when we allow another tax to be levied by a government that keeps finding new ways to pick our pockets because we rationalize that this tax will not effect us only people who smoke or eat too much or buy gas for automobiles etc...

As long as we feel first and think second we are easy targets for predators. That was the point of the sermon I heard so many years ago. The enemy of our soul would love for us to live our lives by how we feel. He would encourage good feelings when we were doing things that could destroy us and others and make us feel angry or cheated when we do things that in the long run will be in our best interest and the interest of others.

And so we find ourselves A Mile Wide and An Inch Deep. The average American spends 8 hours a day at work and 8 hours a day in front of the TV. The cruel reality is that leaves no time for deep thoughts so we dare not tread into deep waters.

1 comment:

MikeR said...

An inch deep and a mile wide is especially true when the teaching of the church deals with Christ as a Savior and has little to say about His Lordship. People ask, “Isn’t being saved enough? What’s all this about discipleship, disciplines, personal effort, relationships?” We are left with very shallow people. Dallas Willard called them vampire Christians – people who need the blood of Christ and then turn their backs in order to live their lives the way the want. They say by their actions, “I’ll get back to you just before I die but for now, leave me alone to live the way I want”.

It’s sad to see people who profess to be Christians turning their backs on Christ’s teaching as a whole and clinging to the part they want from a very selfish perspective. Life in an abundance in available to people but they need an in depth relationship with Christ. That requires surrender to His Lordship, effort, and discipline.

In a society that values strength, control and, unfortunately, speed – we live our lives valuing instant satisfaction with little regard for the benefit of growing into the person God intended us to be to begin with. A person asked some person who were interested in spiritual growth, disciplines and a life with Christ – “are you prepared for the consequences?” He said that we cannot know what God has in store for us and what plan he has for our lives. Spending time in his presence – bible study, prayer, silence, solitude or any of the disciplines – has an affect on us – who we are now and who we will become. We cannot be in God’s presence without his having an affect on us.

That is a critical issue for most people. Verbally or silently the question is, “do I have to give up who I am, what I am, what I have or what I want to do if I accept the teachings of Jesus? We are not the first to question this. The last direction given to the rich young man in Mark 10:21 was “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me”. We also must follow and learn. To learn requires effort. God changes us but not until we respond to his invitation to accept Christ as more than just our Savior. If we want a life that is more than an inch deep we have to get out of the seats in our churches and do something. (While we’re there, we need to listen with our hearts – Christ is speaking to us.)