Christian Growth

Quid Pro Quo

The arrangement we make with God

By Daryl Neipp

In recent American politics, we have been introduced to the concept of quid pro quo, a Latin phrase which refers to an exchange of goods or services that is offered with a contingency or expectation of receiving something in return.

While this concept may seem new to us in the realm of politics, the reality is we operate under this basic set of assumptions all the time. In fact, I would argue it falls under basic human nature for most of life’s interactions. For example, the car dealer isn’t offering you that “free” cup of coffee merely because he thinks you might be thirsty; rather, he has an agenda in mind—that cup of coffee comes with some strings attached. And this sales mentality runs rampant through all our lives. If we are honest, when we run the thread of actions back to their root motivations, we will discover forms of selfishness: I do x because I will get x in return. If that were not bad enough, we import this line of thinking and this way of life right into our approach to religion as well.

Larry Crabb, in The Pressure’s Off, masterfully describes the quid pro quo arrangement we often make with God. Essentially, there is an A + B = C–type relationship: If you live a certain way, you should get what you want. That’s the bargain: I do A; a good, moral God will respond in kind (B); and I will receive the result I desire (C). For Christians, this could play out in a variety of mentalities:

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Solitude Improved: understanding the spiritual discipline of meditation

"Meditation stands between the two ordinances of reading and praying, as the grand improver of the former, and the high quickener of the latter, to furnish the mind with choice materials for prayer, and to fill the heart with holy fervency in it." - Ben Ciavolella looks at Nathanael Ranew (d. 1677)

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“As congregations, we grow in godliness not by hearing one sermon but by hearing a thousand.”

"We need to believe that God really does work and that he really does work over time. Too often we overestimate the growth we can gain in a week, but underestimate the growth we can gain in a year." - Challies

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"Protestant churchgoers say they can walk with God just fine by themselves, but they also say they need other believers to help them do it."

"A LifeWay Research survey sponsored by the Center for Church Revitalization at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary finds majorities of those who attend U.S. Protestant or non-denominational churches at least monthly agree with the two sentiments that are seemingly in conflict." - Facts & Trends

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The Blame Game and Spiritual Preparedness

I do a lot of reading, as you probably know. Right now, I am reading a splendid book on the subject of apologetics titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, by Nancy Pearcey.

Unfortunately, despite the amazing nature of this book, the author makes the same mistake I have heard repeated time and time again: the claim that our churches do not prepare our youth with the answers to the questions and challenges they will face in college.

The reason for this lack of preparedness (I would argue) is not necessarily a lack of opportunity. Many students don’t want answers to questions (before they face a crisis), because it takes too much mental effort to think things through. Even if present where the big questions are thoroughly addressed, some may be uninterested and daydream the opportunity away. Such issues do not seem relevant at the time.

It is not until those students are pressured in college that they realize they do not have an answer, or that disturbing questions even exist. In most cases, answers are available—if you know where to find them. But if you haven’t learned at least some of those answers beforehand, it is easy to conclude that there are no answers. (Incidentally, this is why it is crucial for college students to be involved in organizations like Cru/Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Intervarsity; those organizations can often steer inquirers to quick and at-hand resources).

2246 reads

Who Needs Revival?

Some years ago, I was visiting a small rural church in Michigan where a preacher delivered a message on revival. His text was Genesis 26:18.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham.

He argued passionately that what we need more than anything else in these times is revival. In fact, revival would solve every significant problem that exists in our nation, our churches, and in the lives of God’s people everywhere. Near the end of his message, he summarized with these words. “Our nation needs revival, God’s people need revival, we here—we all need revival… I need revival.”

The message illustrates a widespread way of thinking about revival and a common pattern in pulpit use of the term. But three problems with this usage call for our attention.

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