Am I A Powerpoint Christian?


 All Blow and No Go

I was reading an article this week about a technology company that had finally moved from the boardroom to actually building something, the president of the company made a simple remark that got me thinking.  He simply said,
“We’re not a PowerPoint company anymore…we’re a hardware company…”[1]

I was struck immediately with the significance of what he said as it applied to more than just his company but to me as an individual; really to all of us – not as a congregation or a group – but as individuals.  The concept of moving from a PowerPoint company to a hardware company was meant to convey that until this moment of product testing, for the last few years everything they had done existed only on paper.  They had attended meeting after meeting, and endured one “collaborative design” session after another but hadn’t yet produced a product.

How long can a company remain a company if all they ever do is meet in the boardroom?   At some point in time, the idea swapping and focus sharpening that happens in the boardroom has got to translate into a product coming off the factory floor or the investors are going to drop you like a hot potato.

As Christians if all we ever do is talk about what we need to do, or talk about Love or talk about forgiveness, or talk about faith – we’re going to start noticing that the culture that surrounds us is beginning to ignore us because we’re not delivering any real goods in keeping with the hours and hours of church service deliberation.  My cousin used to refer to people that always talked big but never delivered on their talk as being full of
“all blow and no Go.”

The importance of actually living the Christian life is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders, that he became bitter toward the things of God.[2]

With the rapid availability of instant gratification in everything from fast-food to technology, we live in a world which grows bored very quickly. We cannot afford to be the reason for people growing bored with the message because they only hear it from us and never see it in us.  I want to challenge you this morning to step out of the boardroom of the typical church service and the standard “quick-read” morning devotional and get into the work of visibly applying God’s word in a display to the watching world.

Looking In the Mirror: Are you a PowerPoint Christian?

The best primer for such a move might very well be in the book of James 1:21-25.  So I’d like you to go there and take a read with me this morning. <Read James 1:21-25>.

Just like James suggests it’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “What do I see there?”  The inference of the text is that we need to remember what we look like when we look in the mirror.  And we’re talking about more than personal grooming here, we’re talking about looking at God’s word and letting it impact our life.

The question of the text is “Am I a PowerPoint Christian?”  Is the limit of your faith confined to the four walls of the church sanctuary?  Or do the words of God impact what you do on Monday?  If there’s no Monday impact, your faith is a fraud and you’re really just fooling yourself.

A PowerPoint Christian, might open God’s word and read it, and might even enjoy it from time to time, but they don’t see anything in God’s word that tells them personally what they ought to do.  In other words the reading they do, doesn’t affect the activities they do.

A PowerPoint Christian might go to church every week and walk out saying with complete sincerity, “Good sermon pastor!”   But a PowerPoint Christian will leave the church, leave the sermon, or leave the bible reading and will never again give thought number one to what the message of God’s word was.

For the PowerPoint Christian, the sermon isn’t judged on whether or not it showed you something to work on in your own life, or whether or not you learned something new about God that helped you to love him better or helped you to trust him tomorrow.  A PowerPoint Christian judges the sermon on whether or not it sounded good.  Did it flow linguistically?  Did it avoid putting you to sleep?  Did it tickle your itching ears?

If upon exiting you recite: “good sermon pastor” meaning that you were entertained, than I have wasted my time completely and you have fooled yourself.  But if “good sermon pastor” means you’ve had your heart broken by God’s word in a way that’s going to make a difference on Monday, or if it means that you’ve been lead to surrender to God an area of your life you’ve been struggling with or holding back; than you’ve managed at that point to move out of the board room and onto the factory floor of real life production.

One of the cardinal rules of handling a gun is that you must always assume it’s loaded.  Every year people are maimed or killed because they “Thought the gun was unloaded.”   Like pointing a pistol, opening the Bible is a dangerous exercise.  When you flip the pages you should expect to find something there that demands a life response.

King Louis the 16th would attend his ornate chapel both to worship and be worshiped.  There he would often hear the preaching of a man named Jacques Bossuet, one of the most eloquent French Catholics. The two men couldn’t have been more different.  When Bossuet discovered the Bible he opened it to Isaiah and was gripped. Running to his father, he read him chapter after chapter. In time, Bossuet learned the Bible almost by heart and gained a reputation as an orator, keeping his fellow students in rapt attention.

Eventually he was appointed court preacher at Versailles. It was said, “Bossuet is the most powerful, the most truly eloquent speaker that our language has ever known.

He was also blunt. In some sermons, he addressed the king by name; and on one occasion he earnestly implored Louis to abandon his adulteries and return to his wife. Unfortunately, Bossuet’s eloquence did little good. The nobility sat listening to him, dressed in powdered wigs, high-heeled shoes, and gaudy costumes. They wept during Bossuet’s messages, but left unchanged[3]

It is not enough to cry at God’s word, unless those tears water the soil of a changed life.

When you look into the mirror, what do you see?  And when you see something you don’t like, do you take corrective action?

Knowing Demands Doing

Later in the chapter James says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.(James 4:17 NLT)

My dear friends, my heart’s goal for you is that when you hear God’s word you listen for its challenge.  But more than merely being challenged I yearn for you to humbly accept it and let it sink into your heart.  And I long for you to hear God’s word and make the conscious effort to live in obedience to what you have heard.

I have a computer program that I use for my Bible study which has more than thirty translations of the Bible.  In fact there are well more than thirty translations of the Bible out there, and every year it seems there’s a few more released – it’s as if the publishers all think we need “just one more” translation.

I happen to agree with them.  We really do need one more translation of the Bible; and I don’t mean another translation with pen and ink.  We need a translation of the Bible in flesh and bone. [4]

Are you willing to be that translation?  It really doesn’t matter if it’s a first time committal or a recommitment to give your life over to God’s control – in obedience to His word; either way – are you willing today to surrender your life and body to live in obedience to whatever God’s word says?

This morning as we close, I want to close with a prayer of commitment.  And if you want special prayer for God’s help I welcome you to come forward for a season of prayer after the service.  Either way I ask you to join with me in your heart as we pray this prayer to our Father together…

Dear Lord,
I confess to you that I haven’t always responded to your word in obedience.  And I ask for your gracious help to respond today and every day to your word with a heart bent towards obedience.  Today I offer my life and my body to you Dear Lord, to hear your word and to obey it.
And I ask for both your forgiveness and your help in the name of Jesus Christ your Son and my redeemer.
AMEN.

 


[1] Michael Laine, President of the LiftPort Group quoted in Space Elevator Concept Undergoes “Reel” World Testing by Leonard David http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/050923_spaceelevator_test.html

[2] Contributed by: Evie Megginson  on Sermoncentral.com

[3]Morgan, Robert J. On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes. electronic ed., September 27. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997.

[4]McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. electronic ed., Vol. 5, Page 639. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981.