By Sam Collins
Every so often a Christian group will mount a campaign buttressed by multicolored posters, websites, news releases, and enough overheated rhetoric to bring a vat of chicken gumbo to full boil. Typically the titles of these ventures will proclaim outrageously unrealistic goals such as Winning Every Person in the Western Hemisphere to Jesus by Next Tuesday.
I’m not saying that these efforts are bereft of any merit. I don’t mean to imply that they have not at times snatched souls from the spidery grasp of evil and deposited them into the loving lap of the Lord.
I do suspect, however, that such ventures sometimes are as much about cultural perceptions as they are about effectively transforming individual lives and nations. After one such crusade, a participating faith group’s national worship attendance numbers actually declined the following year—which leads one to suspect that either the effort was as much hype as substance or that the group ran a concurrent, off-setting Backsliding for Believers campaign.
Our culture tends to go for the flashy and inflated. We belittle the thought of taking a realistic nibble out of humankind’s propensity to sin and folly; we demand that the whole enchilada be gulped down at one setting—even if the enchilada is the size of a river barge.
We are obsessed with the big bang. Our thinking seems to be, how boring to disperse vultures by lighting the fuses of a few well-placed firecrackers when we could ignite enough pyrotechnic explosives to shatter eardrums and knock the earth slightly off its axis.
I think it would be interesting—and perhaps more in line with the patient, winsomely persistent Spirit of Christ—to see a faith group launch a Meek for a Week campaign. Instead of aiming to establish world peace within seven rotations of the planet, how about trying something that seems much more modest but which most of us have never accomplished in any 168-hour period of our lives—resisting the impulse to lose our cool with family members, co-workers, fellow motorists, or food service staff?
Rather than start by trying to turn the earth’s entire population away from debauchery for all eternity, might it be helpful if we were to begin by taking a week to deal with our own indifference to allowing God to help us uncover and rein in our religious arrogance and our impatient desire to have things our own way? What would happen if we took a week’s vacation from obsessing about the godlessness around us and turned our prayerful attention to the unacknowledged obstinate spiritual smugness within?
If with God’s help we could manage to be meek for a week, it might be a significant step toward making Christlikeness a way of life. And if that could happen, spiritual transformation might become a spreading contagion rather than a catchphrase-obsessed, anemic conceit.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of Church of God Ministries or, at points, even the writer, but are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek to hopefully provoke a leavening bit of laughter and a smidgen of thought.