Friday, June 10, 2011

The Shelf of Impossible Sainthood

"...why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?" - Peter.

No mere human saved me. No mere human discipled me. Only Jesus. Only the Spirit. Only God.

Our culture puts people up on pillars of worship and then reports as those pilars crumble. Just look at how the media sets people up as gods and then gleefully reports on their demise. Why with glee? Because we gleefully lap it up. We love worshipping people and we love it when they fail. We're pretty bad, perhaps evil.

And Christian culture is no different. Dad and I were talking this morning about preachers and how they take on airs as they preach. How they have breathy prayers, build up to yelling in their sermons, wax eloquent and tearful in their "authentic" moments. A lot of the time I wonder if they're striving for an Oscar with their performances. Preaching is not performance.

But then Dad and I began talking about Billy Graham. For all I know he is a man who has walked close to God for a very very long time. Dad and I were wondering what we'll do to him when he dies. I know what we'll do, we'll deify him. Put a halo around his head and forget about him. It's pretty sick I know.

But from the grass-roots of Christianity we see this happening. People looking to people for worship and salvation. That's why Peter says what he says above. In essense he goes on to say, "Look you crazy peeps, this Jesus, who you killed, who God raised, healed this man. Now repent, so that you can experience Jesus do his thang."

I worship people constantly. And yes, sometimes I love it when they fail. Other times I have so much vested in them as the objects of my worship that I'm devastated when they fail.

I need to be shaken, perhaps even slapped around a bit, to see the kingdom reality that, as a Christian, there is only one savior, only one discipler and only one sanctifyer. People don't even partner with God. God has to rescue and transform them to the point that they get with his program. They then follow God as he disciples, etc. etc.

Maybe I'm splitting hairs. But according to my wife split hairs mean something. And this has been such a point of trauma in my life that I've just got to write it down.

I've been burned over and over again by worshiping people and not God. People who I've thought were saints have hurt me and wounded me deeply. I don't think I would be immune to hurt and wounding if I didn't worship individuals, but rather than treating people as objects of worship, as idols, perhaps I would treat them as people, broken and in need of mending just as I am.

This is a very important point. If we lift up our pastors and spiritual leaders, we strip them of their message and set them up for failure. Who ends up hurting who? Everyone seems to get hurt! And in time, if our pastors meet our standards for worship they become objects that we put on the "shelf of impossible sainthood." Rather than marveling at God because of what he has done with their lives, we stick them up there and forget about them. Those impossible saints.

I know I need to "repent therefore, and turn again, that (my) sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may com from the presence of the LORD." - Peter.

I know I need to quit ignoring what God's doing in people and start attending to God, for he's always on the move. Beware!

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