I was sitting in a lecture a good few years ago, and the discussion worked its way round to contrasting a couple of views regarding the expression of the Christian faith.
Exciting times !!!! … well, perhaps not, but it was a theological college and that’s what we were doing …
The two ideas were pretty much as follows:
On one side was the notion that Christianity was essentially a religion of consolation – a sort of echoing of the Marxist-Leninist idea that religion is the opium of the masses – that religion, faith, belief in God, or whatever you want to call it, was at best a way to say to people with lives ranging from downtrodden, through pants and all the way past awful, “Never mind, at least when you get to heaven it’ll all be fluffy clouds, chubby little angels with harps and rivers of Guinness!” (Okay – maybe not the Guinness).
This particular view was summed up by the lecturer as “Pie in the Sky when you Die!”
The other side of the argument was a look at a sort of prosperity/health and wealth style gospel that presented the notion that Christians were called to a life of financial prosperity here and now, that it was God’s will that believers were to ‘name and claim’ all manner of blessings, material, financial and health wise.
This was summed up as, “Steak on a Plate while you Wait”
Naturally, someone asked the inevitable question – “Does that mean we’re really looking for a Steak Pie?”
Now, I can’t actually recall what the consensus of opinion was – I do remember many groans at the “Steak Pie” quip – but the story came back to me when I was reading about the idea of ‘evacuation theology’ – the erroneous idea that Christianity boiled down to an attitude that thinks that if we believe in the ‘right things’ in the ‘right way’ and say the ‘right words’ that somehow that would qualify us to be ‘beamed up’ – Star Trek style – to a better place where everything is wonderful all day long and we don’t have to think/worry/work/live with the world we are actually in right now!
Not sure I can agree with that!
Not sure I can go with either “Pie in the Sky” or “Steak while you wait” or even “Steak Pie” – because I think at heart all three ideas are about what we can get out of it rather than how we can be involved in it
My current understanding is that if we’re praying “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” that we should probably involve ourselves in the ‘doing on earth’ bit in some way. Rather than appealing to God to sort it all out by magic and then passively watching things unfold, and feeling either detached or insecure – or even appalled and heartbroken – we, the church, might need to engage with the broken-ness …
My wife – who is infinitely wiser and more spiritual than I am (and who might also read this at some point!!) – talked about the idea of Restoration when we spoke in church at Easter … the idea was that the Resurrection brought some sense of restoration to us, but that like any restoration that you might see on a property show it isn’t a slap-dash, whack-it-together-and-hope for the best affair. No, like on the property shows – that show people lavishing time, care, consideration and not least tons of money on the places where they live – our restoration is done with infinite care, with consideration for the original, with the best materials, and to bring about the glory intended from the outset.
Maybe we need to think about applying ourselves to the restoration of this place we live in … finding ways to get involved in restoring people and places … using time, care, consideration and yeah, maybe even your money, to make a difference.
Here’s a few links to get you started …