In his book, The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis describes the character Screwtape, a senior demon writing to his nephew and understudy, Wormwood, to speak of humanity’s fear of the ordinary, the routine, the “Same Old Thing.” He instructs Wormwood in this way:
“What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And.’ …If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian sort of colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thin
Having turned our calendars over to a new day, a new month, a new year, I’m asking myself, “How often is this true of our churches?” The shelves of Bible bookstores are filled with books teaching how to build a more progressive or culturally relevant church. There are conferences and retreats that give their time primarily to strategies for boosting attendance, often with workshops and break out sessions filled with marketable words like “innovative” and “exciting.”
It’s not that those things are wrong in and of themselves. On the contrary, in their proper place they are very useful. But I find myself wondering what happened to the simplicity and consistency of the Word taught over time? Have we become afraid of the same old thing?
At the end of the day, it is the light of God’s Word coming to bear on dark hearts that causes a man to cry out for saving grace, a young couple to faithfully commit to give, an older man to step out of his comfort zone to disciple a college student, or a young mother to daily choose to pour all that she is into her home and children. It is God’s Word that is powerfully blessed, not our clever tactics, or prepackaged strategies.
Why does the church in America seem bound on an endless journey to find “God’s Word AND?” Is His Word not enough? It must be! Over and over and over again in the book of Acts we see this incredible formula: God’s Word goes OUT through preaching and teaching, and it is God who brings people IN to the church. It’s as simple as real people, who have been changed by the truth of the Scriptures, obediently and faithfully teaching that same truth to others.
Perhaps what we need most this New Year is not something new at all, but rather something old—something timeless. “Truths unchanged from the dawn of time”—and a firm commitment to stand on those truths, to cling to them, no matter the cost.
“…if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:23