Thursday, March 8, 2007


I like to read Erwin McMannus. I don't always agree with him, but if you only read authors that you completely agree with, you probably won't get to read much.

Lately I've been reading his book entitled "Soul Cravings". The book is written more like a journal, and the short chapters are referred to as "entries". Here's a portion of entry 22, called "Standardized Testing." It really made me think- perhaps it will do the same for you.
My only request is that you read through it all before you decide what you think. Thanks!

"Ironically, one of the very things that should draw people to God has actually repelled them from Christianity. Over the last two thousand years, the Christian religion has abdicated its unique view of the individual and has fallen in line with every other world religion. It's easier to run a religion if you can standardize everything, including the people...

If you were to interview people who have come out of churches and have no intention to return, you'd find some common themes. One of them is the controlling nature of the churches they came from. Somehow we've equated conformity with holiness. Spirituality is more identified with tradition and ritual than it is with a future and a hope. Too often discipleship equals standardization. It's almost as if God's solution to the human problem is cloning, making us all the same, extracting from us all that is unique, destroying that which makes us different.

The tragedy, of course, is that this has nothing to do with Jesus. It would be an understatement to say that Jesus was unique. Even if he were not God, he would have been history's most extraordinary human being. He was a nonconformist; He was anti-institutional; He surrounded himself with outcasts; He was everything except what they expected. Jesus' life was a model of uniqueness, and his movement was nothing less than that. The people he chose to entrust his message to had to have been the unlikeliest of candidates. They were nothing if not unique. The son of a carpenter gave the responsibility that would typically be entrusted to priests and theologians to an unqualified group consisting of fishermen and even a tax collector. Furthermore, his inner circle also consisted of a woman who was once a prostitute. From background to temperament there was nothing about Jesus' disciples that reflected conformity--neither did his message.

When Jesus spoke to the crowds in what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, he described the masses in a way that no one else saw them. The thousands who pressed against each other to listen to the teachings of Jesus were the social outcasts of their time. They were the unwanted, the poor, the criminal, and the sick. Yet when Jesus described them, his words were filled with both affection and admiration. "You are the light of the world," He told them. Their lives should not be hidden, but open for the world to see.

These masses were the invisible.

They were part of the countless number of people who are lost in the shadows of great civilizations. They were the throwaways. They were seen as liabilities, burdens to society, but not to Jesus. He saw them as lights hidden under a bushel. He know that there was something deep inside them waiting to come out, something beautiful, something breathtaking...

"You are the salt of the earth," he also told them. But here there is a different danger. When salt loses its flavor, it has no value... I think a lot of the people listening understood that. In fact, they had probably experienced it. In the sight of those who were powerful, they were considered worthless... But they themselves may have been their own worst enemies. If they did not recognize their own worth, if they relinquished the uniqueness of being human... they were like salt that had lost its savor.

You may not agree with this, but you should take time to consider it. While religions have historically tried to make us the same, Jesus call us to be different. If you have ever experienced this, you know your soul bristled at the demand to quietly get in line and conform... There is something inside you that resists surrendering your soul to legalism. The good news is that all that time it wasn't you fighting against God; you were fighting for what God has created you to become.

To come to God is to discover the uniqueness of your being.

When you come to God, you begin a process that re-creates you from the inside out. You begin a journey that is nothing less than life transforming. While there are some things we will share in common, the journey God has prepared for you is uniquely yours with him. Don't be confused by this--everything around us pushes toward conformity. Whether it's communism or Islam, Calvin Klein or McDonald's, we are all pushed toward standardization and quickly find ourselves as assembly-line humanity.

We have to choose..."

Taken from Soul Cravings by Erwin Raphael McManus. Copyright 2006, Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, TN

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

lots to think about..thanks for sharing these - it IS Thursday :-)