Deux ex machina

I just read an article by Andrew Strom called “The Nine Lies of the Church”. It is a rather angry article overall.  But one of the great things I like about angry articles about the church is that they get us thinking about things we normally avoid thinking about.  

Strom’s “lies” include the observations that “asking Jesus into our hearts” is not in the Bible and that Jesus doesn’t talk about “prosperity” (Strom is not a fan of “The prayer of Jabez”).  Although I would have put much of his “lies” in the category of “false assumptions” there is still a lot of food for thought in the article.  

However, I found it really interesting that Strom’s response to the “lies of the church” is a call for “revival”. Which after doing a quick word search in the NRSV, CEV, message, RSV and King James bibles I found no hits.  I guess that is one of Strom’s “lies”!

The way my Shadowlander brain works is strange but a call for “revival” often makes me think about how much Bonhoffer detested the idea of “deux ex machina”,  An ancient Greek idea often used in their plays where God comes in at the last minute and fixes everything up.

Revivals are quick and spectacular things, were God comes in and fixes everything up. I would argue that God is normally not like that. Jesus was born in a stable and died with a bunch of criminals, and when he did do miracles He asked people not to tell others. Jesus was anything but spectacular, and futhermore part of being Christians (the church) is that according to 2 Corinthians 5:20 we are God’s ambassadors on earth:

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

Since Jesus now makes “his appeal through us” it follows that the work of the church is not going to be as spectacular as a “revival” is assumed to be. Most of the time to quote Charlie Kaufmann’s movie Adaptation “there will be no deux ex machina!”.

Where am I going with this?  My point is simply that maybe instead of praying for a “revival” to change the world our prayers would be more productive if we started asking God to change US so that WE can change the world. 

Just food for thought.

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