Friday, December 23

"Cookie-Cutter" Christianity

In Mushrooms on the Moor, Frank Boreham (1871-1959) of Kent, England and best known in New Zealand, writes of Henry Drummond's disdain for "ready made clothes." This may seem anachronistic to those of us who know rarely anything else these days! Now, many of us have heard of Drummond as an evangelist during the days of Dwight Moody. But his predilection toward well-fitted clothing is just one other aspect of this man of God. Boreham, in his manner, utilizes this very real issue in Drummond's life as an appropriate allegory for the way in which we Christians proclaim or live out the Gospel. In our day, one way to describe this tendency would be with the term "pigeon-holing," or "forcing one into a box," or "cookie-cutter Christians." No two born-again believers will be just alike in the manner in which they absorb or display the truth of the Gospel. Assuredly, the Gospel itself is not, as they say, "up for grabs." Oh, no. Truth remains unchanging. However, there are as many ways in which we may "grow up into Christ in all things" as there are believers. At least that is how I take Boreham's thesis.

What is the point? The "ready-made" mentality affects us in various ways. For example, it prevents mission agencies from falling prey to the tendency of colonialization, the practice of forcing upon a native population the moors of the sending country. As Drummond would aver, no two men are built the same, thus neither should their clothing be the same. Tailors must have loved this man! But another more common example of this problem is found in the philosophy called legalism. We may not perceive it a philosophy, but it certainly projects itself in such a manner. Legalistic people in legalistic churches often hold to good doctrine, but they lead the way in the selling of "ready made clothes." They expect everyone to sort of look the same, and talk and act the same. One's orthodoxy is judged by the individual's adherence to a commonly held set of standards, standards mind you that are not delineated in Scripture. 

For the individual such a mind-set is important too. It is not necessarily that they will set out to be different, per se. To pursue such may tend toward "ready-made" rebellion, a sort of "gang" mentality. There is a certain freedom in Christ that allows each to seek his own knowledge of God. No one can do that for me. In helping others find peace with Christ, or power through the Holy Spirit, it is most certainly the case that it cannot be sold in a can. The hart yearns for the water brook (Ps. 42), but each hart must drink for itself. When my daughter and her husband sat with me through premarital counseling, I felt compelled to help Rachel seek out her own faith. It's not that she tended to be a blind follower. Of course, I don't mean seek out a separate OBJECT of faith. No, that's Jesus Christ. But to seek it on her own and not because her Dad was a Pastor. During the week before our discussion, a term came to me. I don't know that it's been used before but I called what she needed, "original grace." Original grace simply put is God's reaching out to (in this case) Rachel in way separate from myself or my wife or her fiance. Granted, we are not alone in this world, nor unaffected by those with whom we consort all of our lives. We very much affect others. At some point, however, each must be convinced in his own right of the verities of Scripture. We as parents should so raise our children that that is their heritage. We, as Pastors, need to do as much for the people in our flock. No two are alike. Treat each as he deserves. Some are saved very young, and others out of a grossly sinful lifestyle. Only God really knows why it occurs this way. To each we proclaim, "Seek the Lord while He may be found."

That's enough for now. You get the point. God bless you richly throughout the days ahead!

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