Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The "tourist mindset" and discipleship (Peterson)

Here's Eugene Peterson writing about the impact a society saturated in instant information, entertainment and technology has on discipleship. This is from Peterson's book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

It is not difficult in such a world to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest. Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church; for others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for religious entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies, and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so somehow expand our otherwise humdrum lives. The religious life is defined as the latest and the newest: Zen, faith healing, human potential, parapsychology, successful living, choreography in the chancel, Armageddon. We’ll try anything – until something else comes along.

Wow! I'm convicted. I chafe at suffering and sacrifice measured in periods of days or weeks, then I open my Bible and see God working in the lives of his people over periods of years and centuries. In addition, as Christian parents I think one of the hardest challenges is steering our children away from the instant gratification and quick fixes our society constantly offers up. "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

via The Reformed Reader

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