The Center of the Universe

We left yesterday’s discussion describing how every age and every culture has a weak point which is exploited by theology that is almost-right. Today’s weak point isn’t too hard to spot. It’s a laser beam focus on the value of self.

The culture we live in today encourages us to live only for us. It says we deserve the best and it just isn’t right if anything bad happens to us. And here is where we find a crossover of our culture into our theology. There are whole teachings, books, media outlets, even scholastic coursework revolving around how God wants us to prosper abundantly, live our best possible life here on earth, and through positive thinking speak everything we want into existence.

These teachings are very appealing. They build us up, make us feel loved, give us assurance God will always give us nothing but the best, and even provide a 12-step process to make it happen. Of course there are elements of truth in these teachings. All blessings do come from our heavenly Father. God does love us as his children and he doesn’t want bad things to happen to us. And certainly there are plenty of examples (from Biblical times all the way up to now) when Christians have used the power of God to make miraculous things happen. The tinge of truth is what makes these theologies believable, even irresistible.

But the reason these teachings are almost-right is because their focus is on us rather than on God and the mission he has given us. They fixate on building our present treasure and make very little issue of things eternal. They bend God’s will to ours and demote him to a genie in a bottle waiting to fulfill our every wish. They are selfish theologies which put us at the center of God’s universe instead of placing God at the center of ours.

Their end result is nothing short of disturbing. They provide a ready excuse from pursuing our mission. Through the tenets of these teachings I have a theological reason to say God would never call me to sacrifice. He would never want me to extend my finances or my effort for the sake of my mission. He would never want my life to be inconvenienced to “go” to a place heavy in need.  He would never call me to the same danger to which he called his disciples, or those which Paul wrote about, or those he himself faced. In fact, I am encouraged to pray he will make a way for me live where I want to live and how I want to live. Or better yet, I can just pray for the one who is called to do all the things I’m not.

Unfortunately, this is not the Jesus of the Bible. The fact is Jesus’ call is dangerous. We are called to sacrifice ourselves daily. I’m not sure how to do this if I am focused on building myself a safe, comfortable, and inconvenience-free life. This isn’t to say we won’t have these things, even if it is for a season. But this is not our focus. It’s not why we are Christians. It’s not our mission.

In the culture of “it’s all about me”, the health of our mission desparately depends on our ability to identify the theologies of self that mascarade as truths of God’s provision.

Tomorrow – how to spot almost-right theology.

Live The Mission,