You may remember a previous post about a local church’s direct mail campaign with the theme “Imagine Your Toughest Job.” The same church just recently started a new campaign.
On the front is the headline “LIVING The Life…” with a blue sky and five late teen/early twenties with perfect teeth and hair smiling back at you. Three are Caucasians (two females, one male), one African American (male), and one Latina. Flip it over, and the phrase is completed with “You’re Always WANTED” accompanied by an African American male doing some sort of dance move. The text underneath reads:
“For most of us, living can be very demanding. Juggling a 101 things [sic]and having less and less time for prioritizing your own life – and then having enough energy to start again tomorrow. Is perfect balance really achievable? Certainly – if you’re a circus performer. If you’re not, come June 6 or June 7 as we begin a new series called ‘Living The Life You’ve Always Wanted”. At Vineyard Community Church, we’re learning to survive and thrive in the imbalance we all call life!”
Pastors Andy and Sharon list the sermons in the series: Living the Good Life, Making Lasting Changes, How to Grow a Healthy Family, More of the Good Stuff, Defusing Explosive Relationships, Achieving a Balanced Life, Living for More Than Yourself, Living with no Regrets, and Making Your Dream a Reality.
Whew. Some pretty relevant topics, eh? But why in a church? What are they offering through this “sermon” series that I couldn’t get with a self-help class, a life coach, or Joel Osteen’s latest book? Probably not much. I don’t know the full content of these sermons, but by the titles and other clues, I’m not sure they will be based on the gospel of Jesus Christ. They might be filled with the “good news” of practical advice, but that’s not the good news of Christianity.
Christianity is about sin, grace, and a Savior; it’s about dying to the old self and being made a new creation in Christ. It’s not primarily about living the good life or being a better father or learning better conflict management strategies. Michael Horton writes,
“Does Christ come merely to improve our existence in Adam or to end it, sweeping us into his new creation? Is Christianity all about spiritual and moral makeovers or about death and resurrection—radical judgment and radical grace? Is the Word of God a resource for what we have already decided we want and need, or is it God’s living and active criticism of our religion, morality, and pious experience? In other words, is the Bible God’s story, centering on Christ’s redeeming work, that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our stories a little more exciting and interesting?” (in Christless Christianity)
Oh, for American Christianity to stop giving people what they think they need and return to preaching the message of sin, atonement, grace, and life in Christ, which is what people really ultimately need to hear.