Maybe it’s always been this way, especially among the young, but I think it’s a growing problem among adults in a highly technological age. The problem is the idea that being a Christian, or attending a worship service, has to be exciting. If it’s not cutting-edge, it’s not of the Spirit.
The challenge with arguing against such a notion is that one can inadvertently end up defending the other extreme, boredom. Every pastor has heard the definition of preaching as “The fine art of talking in someone else’s sleep.”
A Spirit-filled middle is hard to find, but must be sought. It might be good to begin with the obvious: God revealed Himself to us in a book which must first pass through the mind before it can solicit the emotions. When one approaches God the other way, engaging emotions first, the mind may not necessarily hear what the Spirit says.
In a warm letter to his friend, Arthur Greeves, dated November 8, 1931, C. S. Lewis touches on a concern felt by both him and Arthur. It has to do with not finding the Christian story as exciting as stories that run counter to the Christian message. Lewis surmises the answer lies in maturity. He observes,
“I, like you, am worried by the fact that the spontaneous appeal of the Christian story is so much less to me than that of Paganism. Both the things you suggest (unfavorable associations from early upbringing and the corruption of one’s nature) probably are causes: but I have a sort of feeling that the cause must be elsewhere, and I have not yet discovered it. I think the thrill of the Pagan stories and of romance may be due to the fact that they are mere beginnings — the first, faint whisper of the wind from beyond the world — while Christianity is the thing itself: and no thing, when you have really started on it, can have for you then and there just the same thrill as the first hint. For example, the experience of being married and bringing up a family, cannot have the old bittersweet of first falling in love. But it is futile (and, I think, wicked) to go on trying to get the old thrill again: you must go forward and not backward. Any real advance will in its turn be ushered in by a new thrill, different from the old: doomed in its own turn to disappear and to become in its turn a temptation to retrogression.”1
Don’t get me wrong, there are times it’s great to be giddy. Just don’t make a religion out of it.
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.” – Hebrews 5:12-13.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Books, Broadcasts, and the War 1931-1949, Vol. II (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004), 12 – 13. Italics in original.