There have been many accidental innovations through the years. We’ve all heard the story of penicillin and its accidental discovery.
In my opinion, however, the greatest invention ever to come about by surprise is the Slinky.
Richard James, a Navy engineer, was trying to figure out how to use springs to keep the sensitive instruments aboard ships from rocking themselves to death, when he knocked one of his prototypes over. It gracefully sprang downward, and then righted itself. Thus the Slinky was born, and quickly became a household source of “fun for a girl and a boy.”
The occasional accidental genius notwithstanding, I do not recommend stumbling upon something of great value as a strategic plan. This is especially true when it concerns matters of spiritual growth. Lack of intentionality is not only counterproductive, it is lazy. It might even be considered negligent to expect God to transform me serendipitously.
Faith is a beautiful gift from God, and it depends upon divine grace.
That said, it also requires my cooperative efforts, and I can count on my growth being in direct proportion to the attention I give it. To be honest, God deserves more of us than most of us are willing to give.
The Scriptures are full of directives. Tragically, we tend to casually dismiss or ignore them as if they carry no weight. In doing so, we reduce the authority of God in order to protect the right to pursue our own goals and agenda. We simply cannot become dismissive of God’s word without becoming dismissive of God, too.
As a follower of Christ, I should be making more of an impact on the world around me than I am. Rather than waiting on God to act around me so I can take credit, I must look for opportunities to demonstrate how His love is transforming me.
Talking about what it looks like to follow Christ without actually following Christ is like talking about the value of oxygen without breathing. When Jesus says I should do something, then it seems clear enough I have to do something with that.
The church also has a responsibility to do something with the hope we have in Christ Jesus. We cannot afford to wait around and hope that something accidentally happens that will change lives. We have to be purposeful in our methods, intentional in our daily lives. The days of the church being a focal point of the community have given way to a syncretism of beliefs and ideologies, creating a culture in which the church no longer has the automatic draw it once had.
We have to look for ways to connect with the culture in which we exist, and then offer an alternative to life that is grounded in hope, love and truth. If we are not willing to be responsive to what God has called us to be and do, then how can we have the audacity to expect others to do so? We must do church on purpose if we hope to make a difference in the world. We cannot wait on God to do what has been clearly delegated to us – going and making disciples. The ball is in our court.
The Rev. Randall Monk is the lead pastor of Ekklesia Faith Community in Grovetown.