Imagine: Playing games with God
Upon reading the following op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle my first inclination was to just dismiss it and move on. However, it occurred to me later that maybe this was something that needed addressing in light of our country’s new infatuation with God and the growing apostasy within the post-modernist church.
First of all, I have no doubt that the lady who wrote the above article meant well. I also think her questioning some of the decisions our president made following the September 11th attack was appropriate in light of his well-advertised Christian faith. Unfortunately, her naiveté with respect to present-day political posturing and public relations may have handicapped any chance of her making an impact with the essay among conservatives and libertarians. My issue though, is not so much with the content of her remarks as with the sheer presumptuousness of the premise itself. I must respectfully take exception to her trivializing Almighty God with contrived revelations, conversations and role-playing…even if it is for a good cause. I’ve received over the years, as I’m sure many of you have, email containing imaginary stories, instructions and encouragement from and about “God”, all spammed with the best of intentions. I will now confess publicly to all the dear friends who sent them my way that I seldom, if ever, read such email simply because of their fictional nature. I’m sorry, but on matters of faith I just cannot accommodate the contraptions of men.
No matter how good such creativity makes us feel, our faith in Christ needs to be based on reality, not fiction. If it becomes dependent upon the fantasies and feelings of humankind then any little “wind of doctrine” that comes along has the potential of carrying us away or spiritually hurling us to the ground in defeat. As many of my readers already know, the sensory-driven “worshiptainment” format of the seeker sensitive church growth movement has corrupted mainstream Christendom in much the same way “edutainment” has corrupted public school. Because everything these days has to be a game, a show, a program, a strategy or an adventure for a church to be “competitive in the marketplace”, it’s no wonder that there are just as many people leaving the church as there are arriving. That’s just what happens in theaters and entertainment venues. People stay until the show’s over or the thrill is gone. As a result, some are now predicting that “Home Churches” will be the wave of the future. With our culture becoming more and more socialistic and anti-Christian it only stands to reason that a marginalized church would move underground.
I’m always concerned when I witness Christians attempting to teach others biblical truths with fantasy and feelings as their primary mechanism. It’s one thing to quote from scripture what Jesus actually said and did to guide someone toward a more biblical understanding and behavior. But when we take it upon ourselves to imagine what Jesus would think, say, do or feel under certain circumstances and treat those imaginings as factual information or inspired revelation then we betray the very One we claim to serve. That’s no better than carrying around a graven image of God in our pocket for divine guidance, blessing and inspiration. It’s idolatry, pure and simple.
Although the catch phrase “What would Jesus do?” has become quite fashionable among younger Christians, it can turn the didactic teaching of scripture into a dialectic tool of occultism. Taking such liberties with the gospel is just how men like Jim Jones become so successful in leading the spiritually gullible astray. Consequently, “Thus saith the Lord…” is replaced by a second opinion…in this case, that of a creative journalist with a vivid imagination. Instead of humbly proclaiming God’s Word on important issues in her commentary, she imaginatively puts HER words in HIS mouth like a little girl playing house with dolls, super-imposing HER will over HIS and making the God of the universe little more than a puppet that artificially voices HER concerns, HER morality and HER agenda.
Another example of dialectic brainwashing can be found in the old John Lennon song “Imagine”. The Beatles captivated the world (and yours truly) with their music throughout the 60’s and 70’s and used the attractive melodies, rhymes and ideals of songs like “Imagine” to quite frankly, invert the morality of an entire generation by suggesting in a charming and entertaining way that evil is good and good is evil. “Imagine” not only became a huge hit for Lennon but also demonstrated just how easily we are corrupted by taking pride in our own wisdom and imagination.
Isn’t it time we put away those silly WWJD? bracelets, stop playing games with God and just give our childish imaginations a rest? Instead of trying to fanaticize about what Jesus would say or do in a given situation, wouldn’t we be better off opening up that dusty Bible of ours and discovering what Jesus has already said and done and act on that instead? It’s our faith and obedience that pleases God, not our fantasies, creativity and imagination.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1st Corinthians 13:11)