This morning I heard Os Guinness speak at the Duke Divinity School on “Found Faithful: The Challenges Christianity Faces in a Modern World.”
Guinness has a remarkable way of describing what’s going on in the world and how it affects people. What John Gruden has become to Monday Night Football, is what Guinness has been to Christian folks for awhile now. (Okay, a pretty random reference, but I like the way Gruden helps me instantly see layers of what is happening on a football field – a much better complement to Jaws.)
He described several challenges such as ‘the escalation of extremism,’ in which he said that Christians often add fuel to the political and cultural hateful rhetoric, so much so that Christians become anti-Christian in their words, emails and behavior. But, the challenge that got my attention was “the lethal distortion of religion.” His first example sounded and felt familiar: “From integration to fragmentation.” Instead of faith being the guiding core of our experience, it tends to become just one of the many parts of our experience, not shaping everything about us, just getting in line with all of the other influences in our lives. So, we become fragmented – different people in different places.
A silly example – remember the other day when you were in a big hurry, and you got stuck in the line at the store with the slow cashier, and worse, the customer at the counter was buying something that needed a price check? Sweet. Just loud enough for the person behind you to hear, you mutter, “You’ve gotta be kidding me?” Then someone two people back recognizes you from church, and says, “Hey, wasn’t that a great sermon last Sunday?” And you are now outted as a Christian. Oops!
Guinness said that our fragmentation has become so serious that we don’t just have ‘different hats’ that we wear, we have ‘different souls,’ in different places. That doesn’t sound good, does it? Wouldn’t it be great if your best, most honest, loving moment with God spread to every other moment?
But, I want to learn how to be present to God in every place at every time. Or, how God can be present to me. I don’t want God to ask, “Who are you really?” “Someone who just wants to grow up, God.”