Church Write-Up: Rust

At last Sunday’s church service, the pastor told a story about his brother when he was younger. The brother had a car, and the bottom of it was gradually rusting due to salty slush in winter-times. The brother took the car on a joyride on the railroad tracks, and the top of the car separated from the bottom. That rust had caught up!

The pastor likened that to the spiritual condition. He referred to The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. A demon is advising an apprentice demon about how to spiritually trip up a Christian. The Christian falls in love, and the demon suggests that the apprentice demon try to trip up the Christian on the seemingly small things—-the irritations that the Christian has as he and his spouse become accustomed to living with each other.

The pastor also told a story about when he was a boy, and he forgot to say his prayers one night before he went to sleep. He woke up, and he realized that he was still alive, even though he had not said his prayers before falling asleep! That resulted in spiritual doubt, which became a rust on his person’s spiritual condition.

The youth pastor shared about spiritual slumps he had been in. He says he knows that God loves him, even though there are times when he wants to stay in bed and not do anything! He also referred to Philippians 4:8, in which Paul exhorts the Philippian Christians to think upon what is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

That overlapped with the pastor’s sermon, which was about the importance of letting the word of God enter into one’s innards, such that it affects one’s outward confession.

How has this related to me?

—-I have been listening to political podcasts. I think of something Joel Osteen said on one of the rare occasions when I watched him on television. Joel referred to a man who used to listen to talk radio on the way to work, and he was grouchy after listening to people’s continuing disrespect for each other. So the man decided to listen to Joel Osteen on the way to work instead, and the man’s disposition was much better, as he was cheerful and friendly to his co-workers. I am trying to be discerning as I listen to political podcasts, since they do demonize others; at the same time, some of the ones that I listen to highlight the complexity of people’s motivations and examples of heroism. Plus, they expose injustice, and does not the Bible do the same? I would like to continue to listen to political podcasts. It would be dull for me to listen to Joel Osteen instead!

—-I have been reading some Christian conservative exposes of the New Age Movement. Johanna Michaelsen’s Like Lambs to the Slaughter. Constance Cumbey’s Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. I am getting back in touch with the sorts of reading material that I read in my youth: conservative Christian and politically right-wing books. The thing is, I found some of the New Agey things that were quoted to be more appealing to me than traditional Christianity. In times of loneliness, it would be tempting for me to visualize myself visiting a mysterious temple and seeing a loving old man who can talk back to me and be my spirit guide! With God, it often feels like what the priest on last week’s episode of Evil said: God is the quietest roommate! I do not want to open myself up to anything evil, though, so I will not be doing New Age things. Plus, at least I attend a conservative church where the Gospel is faithfully preached, week in and week out. Churches where New Agey things are said from the pulpit strike me as annoyingly flakey.

I’ll stop here.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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