Behold Your God — Week Eleven Introduction

6 Aug

This week of Behold Your God may in many ways be the hardest for us to fully understand and embrace. The focus of this week’s study is pragmatism, a philosophy so deeply woven into the American psyche that it will take a serious work of the Spirit of God to free us from its grip. Pragmatism is based on the idea that whatever works is what we should do. In the church context, this idea of “what works” usually revolves around things like attendance, baptisms, budgets, a sense of excitement, and excellence in programming. None of these things are wrong in themselves, but when they become the focus, you can be sure that pragmatism will work into the mix somewhere.

The reason I say pragmatism is so difficult is that as I write this early on a Sunday morning I realize that if our attendance is off today, I will have to fight discouragement. My own heart wants to strategize rather than rest, plan rather than pray. There is, of course, a place for strategy and planning. We see this in the Bible often. But we put far too great a focus on these things.

Pragmatism is such a danger to us because it can cause us to take our eyes off of God and put them on measures of success that may or may not be very important at all. And this is really the ultimately deadly aspect of pragmatism: it insists on success. One of the reasons American Christians are so depressed and defeated and deflated is that they have been taught more about the American dream of prosperity and success than they have been taught the ways of God. They believe that their Christian lives ought to be one uninterrupted victory after another and that they should always be onward and upward. And the evidence of Scripture gives just the opposite picture. The kingdom of God is often not outwardly impressive. The kingdom is often filled with failure and stumbles and weakness. This is the truth we need to embrace and when we do, we will see the death of pragmatism in our lives. When we trust God enough to trust His ways and when we hope in God enough to make Him the goal, then we are on our way to living a life that is true to His calling for us.

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