Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Rev. Rick Warren, the main thing

The Rev. Rick Warren and the main thing

The Rev. Rick Warren, author of a “Purpose Driven Life,” with thirty million copies sold, was all over the networks during the Christmas Holidays. We were informed by CNN, NBC, and Fox commentators, this incredible man was poised to change the face of Evangelicalism and perhaps of Christendom itself. As I understand it, he will mobilize the religious impulses of people, Christians (hot, lukewarm, and cold), as well as Imans and Rabbis, all over the world, to attack the problems of poverty and disease.

What could be more wonderful? But his timing is lousy.

Questioning Rev. Warren, I feel like David up against Goliath, but with the uncomfortable difference that David was certain God was behind him. I don’t possess that certainty.

I am going to be reckless though and pick up my sling shot and hope I can hit my target.

When I was a boy, I use to sit in a doughnut shop and ponder a poster on the wall which read: “When you travel through life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole.” Over time, that became a guiding principle in my life, joined later with that affirmation: “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Jesus taught His disciples that the causes of poverty and disease originate from an unseen realm. After modeling their weapons, He sent out His disciples to repeat His behavior. Mat 10:7-8 “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.”

From church history, we learn that for the next 300 years, His disciples did exactly what they were taught to do. Then somewhere around the time of the Church Father Tertullian, the main thing ceased to be the main thing.

Wonder of wonders, in our century, the main thing became the main thing again. We understood that the Church is the only institution authorized to attack human misery at its source. No other organization has demonstrated that ability.

Some of us should get a little nervous when the secular world, having found Rev. Warren, is acting like what he is teaching is the best thing since sliced bread. Both Jesus and Paul informed us that the world could not understand what we are about.

By the way, I did what the Rev Warren is suggesting when I was in the Peace Corps. I only recently began to see Jesus’ way of doing things. If we all go rushing off after the Reverend, who will be left to mind the store?