Once again the church has screwed it’s members into thinking they suck! Ok maybe screwed is a strong word but I think it illustrates my point very accurately. How? By giving the people of the Western church “systems” thinking instead of teaching them “seasons” thinking. What, you may ask, is the difference? Let me explain. For the past 150 years or so science has been “king.” Scientific method has so permeated our society that we even have cultural icons that represent the logical end of such thinking. Think of TV characters such as Spock from StarTrek. We have become so infatuated with logic and systems thinking that we want a system for everything. We have developed 12 step groups, deal-a-meal programs, educational benchmarks. Our whole society is run by systems. This is in no way to say that “systems” thinking is a bad thing. I personally think that “systems” thinking is the way that business, economies and governments should be run. The problem comes when you try to apply a system to something that is not, has never been and will never be a system.
Before I give you an example of the absurdity of applying “systems” thinking to areas it cannot be applied to, I should give you an over-simplified explanation of systems thinking is. “Systems” thinking says A + B = C. If I do “A” and add it to “B” the result in my life will be “C.” So in very common terms: If I (A) work out and add it to (B) eat healthy then I will (C) look like Mel Gibson. Sounds absurd doesn’t it. But in reality it is exactly what most people do when it comes to spirituality. If I (A) read my Bible everyday and (B) spend daily time in prayer then I will (C) have a close and meaningful relationship to God.
This kind of “systems” thinking CANNOT be applied to some areas of our lives and spirituality is one of those areas. Let me give you an example to prove my point:
Imagine that you meet the man or woman of your dreams. They are funny, thoughtful, spiritual, humble, assertive, beautiful…you get the picture. Then the first time they ask you out for dinner they sit you down and say the following, “I have been working on a relationship system for some time now and if we are going to have a relationship we must adhere to my system. The system must be strictly adhered to and we cannot move on to a new step until the last step has been completed. The system is as follows:
a) Spend 30 minutes each day talking
b) Share with each other the 5 biggest triumphs of our lives
c) Hug. Short. Not overly stimulating
d) Share with each other the 5 biggest disappointments of our lives
e) Hold Hands. This must be done in a private place or a darkened place as to not cause any unneeded attention from onlookers.
f) Share our life’s passion with one another
g) Kiss. Only once and only a peck
h) Meet each other’s families starting with our Parents then moving on to siblings and finally extended family.
i) Fall in Love
j) Get engaged
k) Get married
l) Live a happily married life
I wonder how many of us would stick around for date number 2? You simply cannot put that kind of “system” into place for a relationship. It just does not work.
Why then is this the kind of tactics we use when in comes to our faith? We want to give people a 4 base system to becoming a church member. 101, 201, 301, and 401, classes on becoming a productive member of the Kingdom of God. 10 Steps to the life you have always dreamed of. Am I the only one who reads the titles of these books and feel like I’m hearing a class president election speech from Pedro? “Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true.”
The church has screwed it’s people by teaching the a systematized spirituality. Screwed literally. Screwed because something new has been created by the action. Maybe raped would be a better word. Like an unwanted pregnancy, The church (and by church I mean well intentioned leaders) has “created” within the minds of it’s people a systems approach to the spiritual that each individual will be left to deal with on their own.
We need to change the way we teach people. We MUST start teaching them in terms of “Seasons” not “systems.”
Seasons thinking is the agricultural approach to spirituality. It is the farmer’s way of thinking. I plant some day in the spring and tend some days in the summer and harvest sometime in the fall. Notice how our minds tend to put this into a system? Think of it this way…The day you met (or someday will meet) the person of your dreams you will have planted a seed. That seed must be watered, weeded etc. but most days you can only watch it sprout. WHY? Because God is making it grow. This is the way our spiritual lives must be. Not a linear race but an evolution. A slow gradual shift in our inner beings until one day we can look back and see that we are new creations in Christ but will never be able to pick out the exact day or time that that transformation took place. We have told people that salvation is a system…Believe in your heart, say a prayer, mean it and you will be saved. I don’t buy it. I have seen too many people follow this system and end up either disillusioned or “backslidden.” We can debat the issue of eternal security until we are blue in the face the real issue is that we have taken a love relationship (our relationship with God) and applied a man made system to it to create a sense of achievement.
You say, don’t you, ‘In four more months the harvest will be here?’ Look, I tell you, open your eyes and observe that the fields are ready for harvesting! – John 4:35