Yesterday I suggested that methodologically us evangelicals are people of fear not of faith. When I talk about faith I am not talking about the answers you could quite easily and correctly write down on a theological exam – our cognitive beliefs. I am talking about our functional beliefs – those things which our lives, choices and desires show to be our actual beliefs. Perhaps here I am already treading on some hallowed evangelical toes but it is not what you say you believe (i.e. being able to recite and discuss good theology) that makes you orthodox but what you show you believe (what is the fruit of a life that loves good theology) that counts.
So what do our methodological fears say about our deepest held desires and the corresponding lack of faith.
Our innate fear of failure, risk or innovation displays our lack of faith in the sovereignty of God. A robust belief in the sovereignty of God means we cannot fail. Romans 8 reminds us that he is working all things together for his good. Even our perceived failures, wrong turns or unwise ideas are being worked together for our good, His mission and His glory.
We, however, are scared to risk or be out of control. We desire to keep things ordered, safe, controllable. Overstatement? Why then are we so innately suspicious of any methodology that does not contain an a priori decision to hold a corporate gathering on a Sunday or engage in a 30 minute teaching monologue. Why does every new church plant look suspiciously like a slightly tweaked version of every other church out there – no matter how different the context is ethnically, geographically or economically? Where are the radical, new inventive, risk-taking gospel endeavour being funded by the established or (crazy thought this) the mega-churches?
We need to recover a robust faith in the sovereignty of God. A faith that says I can risk it all because ultimately he will save the day. Ultimately the victory is his. A faith that says Jesus has done it all on the cross I cannot lose it or mess it up. Not only can we not mess it up but he uses our failures and foolish ideas to extend his Kingdom and bring him glory. We are set free from a paralysing fear of failure, of getting it wrong, or of doing it the wrong way. We are set free to throw it all up in the air, to put it all on the line for the gospel. To risk, to try, to dare, to dream.
We are free to question every methodology, every tradition, every innovation, every guru and every past wisdom. We are free to throw every past success in the air and risk it all again on some crazy venture to share the love of Jesus with a lost world. We are free to wisely or unwisely throw out every “but we’ve always done it this way” and reinvent it all again in the hope of bringing just one sinner home again. We need our pastors to stop keeping the sheep safe from the world and start setting us free to risk it all for His gospel and His glory!
Next: Recovering our faith in Justification by Faith.