In the 2006 movie, Night at the Museum, a night watchman at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is shocked when the exhibits in the museum come to life. His once boring job suddenly becomes exciting and challenging. It is amazing the difference life makes.
For many people religion is like the American Museum of Natural History. It contains lots of data demonstrated in lifeless forms and tired theology. It fills the head with information, but often ignores the heart.
After years of the accumulation of church and Sunday school knowledge, I grew bored with religion. Like the night watchman, I was having trouble even staying awake in my seat. Then one day, all the theological exhibits in my mind came alive – crucifixion, resurrection, miracles, Holy Spirit, incarnation, physical healing, salvation, and most of all, Jesus Christ.
The New Testament that had once made me yawn, now flamed in my heart. Jesus jumped off the pages! The Apostles announced the Good News directly to me and became my spiritual brothers. The letters written to churches almost 2,000 years ago became living love letters from God to me!
I had to tell some of the people I went to church with, but they thought I was crazy. Theological museums don’t come to life. They said, “Don’t rock the boat.” But this boat was rocking me. That was 41 years ago, yet my boat is still rocking and teeming with life.
When spiritual life comes to us, it vividly connects with the spiritual life in the writers of the Bible. It makes religion real — no more blind faith; no more blandly accepting something as true because you have been taught it by authority. Spiritual life turns “hope so” into “know so.”
William Booth, cofounder of The Salvation Army, said this quotation: ”I know I am alive because I do the work of a living man. I know I am. Nobody can persuade me out of it. I know I am alive. And just so in my spiritual relationships.”
We all know that we have physical life. We need no proof; no rational arguments to reassure us, no ritual to help us believe. We simply live and we know that we are living.
The same is true for spiritual life. It doesn’t need to be rationalized, or proven, or argued for. Instead, spiritual life bursts forth like the exhibits-come-to-life in the museum. We know that spiritual life is real because we see it, we feel it, we experience it, and we are passionately driven by it.
Yet the exhibits, programs, and services in America’s theological museums are losing adherents by droves. They just can’t seem to compete with the sexy and sensational seduction of secular society.
But, oh, if America’s churches came alive with spontaneous and joyous celebration; with the awe of trembling at God’s majestic splendor; with people set free from cravings and addictions that have had them mastered; with the pulsating life of God shaking their religious foundations; with the living Christ actively demonstrating His presence and power — then the night in the museum would become the bright and morning star and the glory of the Lord would begin to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Lord, oh Lord, send surging spiritual life!
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