Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Divine Commodity

I just finished Skye Jethani's book The Divine Commodity and found it to be both fresh and convicting in diagnosing much of the state of contemporary Christianity. One of the main characters in his book is the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Jethani does an excellent job telling the story of the modern church through the works and life van Gogh. Here are a few excerpts from the book that really struck me.

On the church's idolatrous focus of creating a consumer experience:

"Ministries that focus on manufacturing spiritual experiences, despite their laudable intentions, may actually be retarding spiritual growth by making people experience dependent. Like caged animals, consumer Christians lose the ability to do what they were designed by God to do—have a vibrant, self-generating relationship with Christ. Instead, they become dependent upon their zookeeper-pastors for life nourishment. This captive/captor relationship is unlikely to change as long as both the church member and leader are satisfied with the arrangement. But is this what the Christian life is supposed to be?" -pg. 79
On the church's tendancy to practice a form of divination where we try to control God and get him to do our bidding:
"The exchange of an unpredictable God for controllable principles is also common within the church. Our insistence on an institutional and programmatic faith is a savvy new form of divination. Invariably, churches that experience significant numerical growth will publish books outlining their methodology and create conferences so other leaders can reproduce such success in their in their own churches. The assumption is that with the right curriculum, the right principles, and the right programs God’s Spirit will act to produce the outcomes we desire. This plug-and-play approach to the Christian life makes God a cosmic vending machine, and it assumes his Spirit resides within well-produced organizations and systems rather than people." -pg 97
A call to live out the Gospel in the midst of our daily obedience, hospitality and authenticity:
"Our homes are to be hospitals—refuges of healing radiating the light of heaven. And our dinner tables are to be operating tables—the place where broken souls are made whole again. In our churches people should find rest from their battle for acceptance and release from the lie that they are nothing more than the goods they possess. When we lower our defenses, when we remove our facades and our peepholes, and we begin to be truly present with one another—then the healing power of the gospel can begin it’s work." pg-154