Wednesday, March 08, 2023

The Presence-Driven Church Is Counter-cultural

Worship dancers practicing at Redeemer

I like reading Eugene Peterson more than I like eating a Klondike bar.

Peterson's book Living the Resurrection would be a good read as we approach Easter week.

Peterson is like A.W. Tozer, Tozer is like Soren Kierkegaard, Kierkegaard is like Martin Luther, Luther is like Jesus, in this way. As Jesus approached the city on the first Palm Sunday, he wept. 

He mourned. He grieved, like at a funeral. The same Greek word is used here is used in John 8:32. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Jesus wept at the death of Jerusalem and the Temple. Jesus wept because the people did not recognize the time of his visitation.

All of the above-mentioned looked at the church and wept.

After Jesus mourns, sobs, as he sees the city walls, he goes into the Temple and cleanses the courts. What was meant to be a house of prayer had turned into an Entertainment Temple, A Consumer-Driven Temple. A Business Temple. The religious leaders had shut the door to the reigning presence of God. And, they do not have the time to pray, because they are making money off the people. They, Jesus accuses, do not "enter in."

"Enter in"... to what? Into God's presence. The Presence is gone from the Temple. His power is gone, his all-knowingness is gone, his omnibenevolence is gone. God has vacated the Temple, and taken his essential attributes with him. And Jesus, Luther, Kierkegaard, Tozer, and Peterson, weep.

Peterson writes, "The church in which I live and have been called to write and speak has become more like the culture... than counter to it." (Peterson, Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life, Kindle Locations 107-108)

When God's presence is gone, when God's presence is not the central focus of church, when the whole church thing is not 100% about God, when the emphasis is on controlling things and people and the "program," when chronos prevails over Kairos, when pressure is on to keep the people coming and add more people to the roster to maintain the growing infrastructure, the smell of death rises from the Great Absence.