This entry in our Friday is (for and from) Friends is by Michelle Van Loon who blogs at The Parable Life. Michelle’s written two fine books on the parables, and I think you’ll find this post of hers is worth some serious conversation today.
“These troubling economic times are an unprecedented opportunity for the Gospel.”
This sentiment bugs me. And I think I have figured out why.
I have been hearing variations of these words for the last few months.
It is true that as our culture’s false gods of materialism, greed and
pride are being exposed as modern-era golden calves, many people are
asking different questions about God and life than they may have asked
before. The recession (which appears likely to be headed into a
full-scale depression) in which we find ourselves means that need – of
work, of financial help, of direction and hope – takes center stage in
many lives. It is equal-opportunity need, in fact. No one is immune –
both believers and those not yet following Christ are facing need in
ways we never have before. And most of us know that we’re still in the
early stages of this new reality.
Has anyone else been cranked the wrong way by the way some have spoken
about these times as an opportunity for the Gospel? Or (entirely
possible) – am I just being contrarian here?
It is an time of “opportunity”, for sure. It is an opportunity for the Bride to be the Bride, to love the world the way the Bridegroom loves it, and to display the alt-reality of His kingdom. It is true that some who say that this time is an unprecedented time of opportunity for the Gospel mean precisely that.
But I hear a lot of the ickier side of evangelicalism in the use of these words, too. In some of the contexts in which I’ve heard this idea being hawked, I hear these words being used to motivate a sales force in order to merchandise a commodity. It feels a little Dunder-Mifflin-ish, perhaps, or at least regional sales meeting-ish. “Get in there and push the product, people. Strike while the iron is hot!” The words have a triumphalistic edge to them, and it isn’t very attractive.
This time in our culture might be about evangelicals learning to embrace the victory that comes with discarding this triumphalistic way of shilling the Gospel-As-Commodity, and instead losing our lives and finding His. In this pursuit alone, we will become His beautiful Bride.