To help you see where I’m coming from, the first post of this series might be helpful to read first…
Amateur Christians, not God experts…
Like I said, the “Amateur Christian” is unequivocally neither a mercenary nor an expert. S/he follows Jesus for the love of it and does so whether or not s/he is particularly good at it. Jesus’ fiercest opponents, Pharisees, embodied both traits of professional spirituality – they “loved money” (Luke 16:14) and fancied themselves God experts (Matthew 23:5).
Pascal said, “I don’t trust Christians. They know too much about God.” Of course he spoke sarcastically. He knew that we Christians don’t know as much as we think we know. It was to our small mindedness – claiming to know more than we know – that the philosopher objected.
When people try to appear as expert Christians it makes them – and all the rest of us – look like fools. Even the non-christian knows that the concept of the “God expert” is oxymoronic. We might have “specialists” among God lovers but we have no experts. I take my broken car to an expert mechanic and my sick body to a doctor who’s a specialist. Expertise is preferable, even admirable, in most cases, but when it comes to spirituality, though some are further along than others, we’re all on some sort of continuum of constant improvement. There are no experts.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…” Philippians 3:12
I remember that as a new believer I soon came to the ridiculous conclusion that I had come to a conclusion. Somehow I thought I had arrived. It wasn’t as satisfying a sensation as you’d think, and fortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realize the absurdity of it. The adventure of the faith is more in the journey than in the arrival (not having arrived, I can only assume).
I think a lot of Christians are under what I call, “The Delusion of Arrival.” It’s like a person travelling on a train that comes to a stop. Thinking it’s their stop, they get off only to realize that they’re still several stations from their intended destination and the next train won’t be coming for a long while. Professional Christians tend to get off the train too early.
Amateur Christians, on the other hand, admit their frailty, and when you get to know them you hear them talk more about things that they don’t know than what they do. Sure, they’re sure about some things, but more than willing to live with the tension that mystery brings. They realize that they’re in route to somewhere and that they haven’t gotten there yet.
In my opinion, when we insist on “advancing” from Amateur to Professional in our faith, instead of actual progress it’s more like stumbling backwards. It’s that sort of supposed progress that might well mark the beginning of the end of most of our revival movements, which usually begin with the Spirit descending on some unsuspecting amateurs. Do some research and you’ll find that instead of “experts,” those who’ve fostered revivals have usually been the uneducated and inexperienced.
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise… the weak things of the world to shame the strong… the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 1 Corinthians 1:20-29
Let’s talk more about revivals next…