Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gospel Treason

Our church staff is reading through Brad Bigney's book, Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols, together.  This week, we read chapter two, I read these thought-provoking words, and I thought I'd share them:
"We live in a culture that is forever inflating the things of this world to religious proportions, trying to fill the vacuum that's been left by excluding God.  We see this phenomenon in sports, which in America has become one of the ugliest idols that we have to contend with.  One spring, as baseball season was cranking up, I saw a commercial showing clips of great baseball moments from the previous year.  It ended with: 'I live for this.'
     About that time, ESPN was running a series of commercials that asked, 'What would we have to talk about if we didn't have sports?'
     You see it with families - even Christians - driving their kids all over God's green earth because 'my child's really good.  He's in a special league,' which essentially means that the family gets to miss church three our of four Sundays so that the kid can kick a ball, jump off a balance beam, or ride a horse.  And that child, while being carted from one sporting event to the next in a cute little outfit, is thinking, 'This is what it's all about.  This is so important to Mom and Dad, what our entire home revolves around.  I live for this.'
     I'm not saying you can't be in a league or you can't play ball.  But moms and dads, don't give in to the same spirit that the rest of our country has toward sports.  As Christians - lovers of Jesus Christ - we have a higher calling.  It breaks my heart to see Christians being sucked into the whirlpool like everyone else.  I grieve when I see someone I've missed at church and say, 'Wow, I've missed you guys,' and they respond, 'Well, you know, it's such-and-such season, and the kids are in a special league, and...'
     Randy Patten, director of the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC), has a great principle: 'Just add ten.'  Right now, she's eight years old, but just add ten years, and then you tell me where that eighteen-year-old girl will be on Sunday, after you've had her on the soccer field three out of four Sundays her entire life.  Do you really believe she'll head back to church, thinking how important it is?  If so, you're fooling yourself.
     As soon as we drift away from Christ and the centrality of the gospel, we start erecting substitutes for God. That's why our culture is so desperate to make heroes and celebrities out of everything and everybody - because our innate yearning for God and the freedom of his gospel, both of which we as a people have rejected. And we try to fill the void with hero and celebrity worship. G.K. Chesterton got it exactly right when he said, 'When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything'" (pages 31-33).