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Deepening our Christianity
the Monday Newsletter of Paul Prins
Edition #17 · 4 September 2023
Changed Lives or Idols of Ideas
I’ve noticed that many in our contemporary world have transformed ideas into idols. Even many of our churches and the ways they do ministry have succumbed to this same thing. It happens when we start to believe that the point and goal is ideas and knowledge.
One of the hopes of the internet is that it would have democratized information. It would make it accessible to the masses. This had led to some very wonderful, beneficial, and globally transformative realities. Yet, for all that information, change follows only through its application.
So what does it look like when ideas become idols? I think there are two ways to tell. The first is that one can jump from idea to idea. The need for an idea itself to give them that euphoric dopamine rush. Then needing it again from another idea. There is seldom time for the introspective work to consider the ramifications and to do the long, hard work to change their life accordingly. Speaking eloquently out of an untransformed life is all too common.
The second is that an idea itself becomes a gatekeeper. There is a collective demand that one has heard the idea, understood the idea, and can teach the idea to others. Until those three things are done, they are unable to enjoy the lived impact of the idea. If the idea creates a transformative lived experience, then why force everyone through the three steps? Most of the ideas that have created our contemporary world are hidden and unknown to those who benefit from them.
This is my observation. Individuals are more likely to do idea jumping. Groups (like churches and ministries) are more likely to do gatekeeping.
So what might we do instead? Let us choose to do the slow, difficult, and unseen inner work. Let us become more people who do the work so that we might respond under pressure and stress with grace, forgiveness, love, and hope. For there are no shortcuts here. People are leaving the Church because too many ‘transformed’ people are angry, violent, and/or sexual predators. People whose transformation seems not to have moved any deeper inward than the distance from their mind to their lips.
Let us invite people to join us without understanding everything. Let us invite people to a life of grace. Grace that enables us to look at ourselves with radical humility and acceptance. From this place of gracious self-clarity, might we see the tides of transformation begin to swell. Let us invite ourselves to stay where God has brought us until God invites us to look around at the new depths within ourselves. For our Christ brought us not another idea, but his way of life. Jesus modeled the transformed life that the Holy Spirit invites us to. A life being animated from the depths of our being with deep deposits of good that we can be generous with to ourselves and our world.
Until Next Week
Unpublished Photo for this Edition
Curated Goods just for You
Sharing what I've come across from around the internet that may encourage or help you.
A Prayer for the Week to Come
Lord, grant us the courage to not chase the next idea, or be gatekeepers of your goodness to others. Allow us to do the hard, introspective work that bears fruit with you in a transforming life. Invite us to ceaselessly pursue your love, grace, hope, and forgiveness. To become like Christ is the journey of our lives, both forward and inward.
the Monday Newsletter of Paul Prins
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