October 19, 2015
I recently found myself speaking at a missions conference on the theme of, “What will it take? To reach all the nations for Christ?” What a great question for gospel-minded disciples!
By way of an answer at that conference, I shared Andrew Reid’s observation that our contemporary English-speaking evangelical culture has moved from sacrifice and suffering as normative for discipleship to fulfilment and achievement as our predominant framework.
A generation or more ago, virtually every evangelical university student would have read Howard Guinness’s Sacrifice. That was the Christian life: sacrifice and service.
Today, most of the books in our Christian bookstores have a different focus: themes of fulfilment or finding your ultimate purpose or the key to happiness. Here are some actual titles or subtitles from best-selling Christian books in Australia today:
The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health
What On Earth Am I Here For? (Personal fulfilment.)
The Secret to Love That Lasts (Emotional or relational fulfilment.)
A generation ago, Christian leaders read Oswald Chamber’s Spiritual Leadership. Today they might more likely read something entitled Seven Surefire Leadership Maxims.
I’m not saying the books today are all bad, or even that those ones are all bad. But notice the way in which the frame of reference has shifted. From sacrifice and suffering as an inevitable part of the Christian life that must be embraced to fulfilment and even strategy–that which is most strategic for me and my ministry–as the main frame of reference. It’s a subtle shift and one that moves us a step further away from the pattern we see in Scripture.