I was reading an article on the future of preaching. One of the author’s points was that it is no longer sufficient for the Church to provide “Easy Answers” to life’s difficult questions. While it was not directly stated, I am assuming he means it is no longer enough to tell people to do things like reading their Bible, praying, and loving one another.
In part, I understand what he is saying. Quoting a Bible verse or offering a quick prayer when someone is hurting seem like shallow answers to enormous problems. My issue with this argument is that it demonstrates a lack of experience.
Reading the Bible seems like an easy answer until you begin actually to do it. There you confront evil and grace in equal measure. The reader is faced with good people hiding their sin and bad people who prosper in their ungodliness. It stretches you to expand the boundaries of your compassion and the enlarge your view of God. Spending time in the word of God is not easy on your mind or heart. It does not always offer simple solutions but a complex narrative that pushes and pulls us in ways we never expected.
Praying sounds like a trite answer offered to any of life’s problems and can mean very little practically speaking. It seems that way until you actually spend time praying. It is tough to hit your knees day after day pleading with God in a situation you cannot control. It breaks your heart, molds your soul, and transforms you into a person of real faith. Until you have sat with a weeping mother holding her hand and asking God to intercede in these darkest hours, you have no idea of the truth about prayer.
Telling people to love one another also appears like a simple solution until you try to do it consistently. In an effort to extend love to others, you will have to face issues you hate. It will make you do good things for people who will never return the favor and often will not appreciate it. Love gets your hands dirty, breaks your heart, and causes you to do things you never imagined. Real love offered in the name of Jesus is the most challenging task on the planet.
The author has good intentions in his article. He wants to see the Church be more practical and offer advice that is both Biblical and relevant. Too often the Church has provided seemingly easy answers to those outside of the faith. The reality is that these easy answers are not really easy. They push us to grow our faith in elemental ways. I know people might find them unsuitable for life’s most significant issues, that is only because they have not tried them. These answers have an easy appearance, but they are the path to spiritual growth.