Thursday, October 20, 2005

Don't seek God's results with devil's methods

Preacher Smith has reprinted an article from Rubel Shelly on the need to avoid shortcuts in spiritual growth:
Both individual believers and whole communities of Christians seem to fall prey to the temptation. We try to get God's results with the devil's methods. We market to someone's felt needs. Manipulate him with a Christian version of ads that worked in the last political campaign. Manipulate her with guilt into joining a study group or attending a weekend retreat. Something fishy is going on here.

Authentic faith doesn't lend itself to slogans. Doesn't advance by mass marketing. Doesn't transform hearts and lives over a long weekend. Spiritual life is created through a personal relationship with God, nurtured in churches where people challenge and encourage one another, and brought to maturity through struggle and failure over time. There are no shortcuts. The growth of souls in love and faith, joy and peace, self-control and uprightness is slow work.

So be patient with yourself and others. Be skeptical of pat answers and shortcuts but open to struggle and questions. Don't get fixated on programs for your spiritual growth, but focus instead on caring about others and helping them.
Sounds like good advice to me.


Anonymous Wayne M said...

You sound like you are arguing for "spiritual disciplines" a good ole phrase we seem to hear so little about these days.

Of which I say a hearty here here...

2:19 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks, Wayne!

4:34 PM, October 20, 2005  
Anonymous brad said...

So is healing the sick "market(ing) to someone's felt needs"? I think it is and it was the LORD's primary method. I think it is exactly meeting people's felt needs that Jesus did. Of course having our felt needs met isn't the same as coming to faith that Jesus is Lord but it is certainly the primary means we come to knowing Jesus is Lord. I came to Christ because I realized I was an addict to sin. I just couldn't stop sinning so I sought out help. Someone told me to read the bible and I come to a saving knwoeldge of Jesus Christ out of a desire to become a better person (from my own warped perspective of what that meant of course). Jesus came to preach good news to the poor and release to the captives. Getting release is defintiely the captives felt need. I know that one from personal experience.

4:56 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I certainly don't want to belittle the kind of healing you describe. When I think of felt needs marketing, I think of trying to draw people to church for a whole assortment of reasons not related to what we're really about: restoring a right relationship with God. More and more I'm inclined to think that if Jesus Christ and him crucified doesn't attract sinners, then other methods are more or less useless.

5:21 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

By the way, thanks for stopping by, Brad, whether you be Brad Huston, Brad Hightower, or another Brad. Peace.

5:22 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger John said...

And it sounds like good advice to me too, Milton! Great thought provoking post!


6:53 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

You're quite welcome, John. Good to hear from you!

8:09 PM, October 20, 2005  

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