This week we launched a podcast featuring my old friend from Bible College Mitch Lewis (thanks, Mitch!) During that podcast he talks about hitting the eject button on a lot of his religious framework about how he understood God. In fact, he talked about becoming an atheist for a time, saying to himself “if there’s any shred of compassion to the God I once knew, He’d prefer me to be an atheist over dead.”
I doubt you’d find that in one of Joel Osteen’s books. Or in an “Our Daily Bread” pamphlet. It’s not a very orthodox statement. I don’t know if it’s a Biblical statement.
But I think it might be one of the reasons that Mitch still believes in God today.
I’ve come to think that the church structures and methods and traditions that we have developed are (for the most part) good hearted. They were devised to point us towards God. But the moment that structure is erected, it is doomed to be a tomb from which God has no expectation to move within. Sometimes it’s just that we experienced God in one way, and so we stick our flag in the ground and say every generation after us MUST experience God just like we did. With the same hymns playing. Reading the same translation of the Bible. By reorienting our lives towards the gospel in the exact same way or timeframe. I am of the belief that God is under no obligation to honor the ways in which he moved in the past over the ways in which He wants to move now.
What if the primary way in which people came to know Jesus ceased to be an altar call at a church service or crusade? What if people began learning more about scripture through an app that teaches sound Christian doctrine than through a pastor’s sermon? Are we willing to abandon methods and frameworks that no longer point us to the infinite person of God, the eternal truth of scripture, or the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit?
Hearing about someone like Mitch having to go from being a Christian to being an Atheist before he could really find God in his suffering and become a Christian again might have made me uncomfortable in the past. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore. How about you?