Catalyst 2007 – Erwin McManus

“Solomon was wrong.”

  • It’s not a popular idea to deny the Teacher’s revered sayings, but it just won’t go away.
    • Eccl. 1:9-10 What has been will be again… there is nothing new under the sun.
    • An oft-quoted, a prevailing thought in the leadership frameworks in Christianity
  • We’ve rarely stopped to question what he said here, but we disagree with him in other places
    • Jesus said burden is light, but Solomon said it was heavy
    • Places in Ecclesiastes where we know Solomon was wrong. Not the best to build your worldview around a guy who says it’s all meaningless
    • When you’re having your worst day, don’t write to other people on how to live.
  • Solomon says it’s all a circle. What is coming is simply what has been in the past. Why is it that we’re so quick to embrace this?
    • It’s in our language. Worship band leader: “Let’s make history!” So, it’s ok for us Christians to make history (literally what has past). Or a magazine that says “Let’s change history!” …
    • But what would the typical Christian response be if Erwin says “Let’s change the future!”?
  • We don’t understand what our role in time is. We’re so careful not to infringe on God’s sovereign space, we sit apathetically by waiting to respond to it.
    • But Hitler’s and Stalin’s create history when we wont.
    • Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if only the most evil feel free to create the future, there’s something wrong with our understanding of our role in the future to come.
  • The way we’ve been taught is, “If it was evil, it was us, but if it was good, it was definitely God.”
    • But we weren’t created to live in neutral. If all our actions produce evil, then we should only sit by and react to stuff.
  • Isaiah 43:18-19 “Stop thinking about the past!” (contrast “Do not forget….”) “Now I’m doing a new thing, but will you even be aware of it?”
    • If only God had read Ecclesiastes, He would have got it right.
    • God: “Stop living in the past and get engaged in the future I want you to be a part of.”
  • We have to begin to rethink our relationship to history. We can’t change history, and to make history means that we’re doing something that really matters.
    • But to create the future means that we’re pursuing where God is going into the future.
  • Part of our dilemma is we’ve stopped being honest about the meaning of life.
    • We enter into relationship with Christ, God sets us free. Now we’re free in Jesus to create and do good works in him
  • When we’re only preaching to Christians, are we communicating at the deepest level of humanity?
    • Erwin: “When I sing Christian songs, I have a hard time with some of them, where I want them to be true.”
      • Never been a moment where God was really all I wanted. “God you are all I want, but I could really use a cappuccino.”
      • Exhale if Jesus is all you need … Nice, isn’t it? … Now feel free to inhale when you realize you need oxygen too.
    • Adam had a need for human companionship that he was previously unaware of. Adam’s naming all the animals, then God puts him to sleep to create Eve. Putting Adam through a learning experience. 2 gazelles, 2 gophers, 2 rabbits. “Get the theme here, Adam? No? Just go to sleep, I’ll fix it…”
      • God understood Adam’s need far more than Adam understood his own, and God had joy in meeting those needs.
      • All of creation is a testament to how much pleasure God finds in meeting our needs.
  • A man on TV with healing oil, selling oil that had cured lady’s dog from cancer.
    • What has gone wrong? Somebody has to be sincere. Somewhere. I have to believe that. Maybe the old lady that sent in her welfare check to buy the oil for her dog… maybe the dog is the only sincere one?
    • “Somewhere down the line someone figured out that Christians are incapable of discerning what is authentic and what is inauthentic.”
    • “How is it possible we’ve lost our capacity to connect to what it real?”
    • Every person without God who watches that show has to know that it is not real. But why do we fall for it?
  • At one point the memories I had became less trustworthy than the stories I had been told. I had disconnected myself from reality. My soul was sick. The human spirit cannot live in falsehood. We’re designed to live in truth. Our souls long for the real, the authentic.
  • What is the future of the church?
    • We’re in a great moment now, because for the first time in a long time we’re allowed to tell the truth. We didn’t mean to be disingenuous, but we were. Our Jesus stories don’t have to be dramatic.
    • Say you were 6, you had never robbed a bank. You tried, but you couldn’t drive so you couldn’t get there. You ate your vegetables. You didn’t even go bad there. You met Christ, some of you actually even love your parents. Then you came to faith, and somewhere later you came to a crisis of faith and you pushed away from Christ. And you came back to Jesus but you have to make your past sound dramatic.
      • But do you?
      • God just keeps putting the pieces back together and creating something beautiful.
      • Mosaic is a gathering of pieces that is put together by the hands of an artist. Something that is beautiful when it’s put together, especially when light shines through it.
    • Lot of ways of describing human history: Nations, empires. Art, dance. War, conquest. Anthropology. Sociology. Geopolitical. But through scripture, human history is a conflict between tragedy and beauty
    • God creates us among beauty and we bring tragedy into it. And history is all about God taking it all and creating something beautiful
    • Solomon may have had it most right when he said “time for everything” in chapter 3. God has made everything beautiful in its time he has also set eternity in the hearts of men.
    • There is nothing more powerful we can do as leaders than to call our people into engagement with the honest authentic narrative of God’s activity in our lives.
    • God is making everything beautiful in its time. He is the source of ultimate beauty. Is it possible for the source of all beauty to go unrecognized?
    • “I have trained myself to leave the worst for the best, and I have been nauseated by the overpowering strength of it.”
    • Is it possible for us to have trained ourselves to believe that to live an inhumane life is what it is to be human?
      • Is. 53. – The one who was most beautiful was the one who walked among us and we didn’t get it, he was seen as horrid to us.
      • John 1 – Real life, real humanity was walking among us. He was in the world, but we did not recognize it.
    • EM: “Was at a church that didn’t want me to be their pastor. They wanted me to be their speaker.”
      • “I’ve got enough neurosis, I don’t need the church stuff.”
      • What the world needs from us is not great sermons or brilliant messages. Ned them to take them to a place that they cannot go without us. Because we have been with God, and now we want to take them there.
        • We need less teachers, and more poets. Able to find the beauty in the most painful experiences we go through.
      • “God is making all things beautiful in your life. And if you’ll listen carefully and look with care you’ll see his fingerprint on everything you encounter.”

      An overwhelming but not explicitly stated message in Christianity is that you can’t be human because it will bring the whole movement down. But the movement really started when God stepped down into flesh and was human.

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2 responses to “Catalyst 2007 – Erwin McManus

  1. wow… cool notes.. thanks for sharing them!

  2. I saw McManus’ talk at the Leadership Summit (2011), and I REALLY liked a lot of his points concerning creativity and the absence of it in many churches. BUT I was thrown off by his view of Ecclesiastes. In my reading it seems that Solomon (it is disputed that he even wrote the book and perhaps the author was using him as a device) was contrasting two lives by embarking on a journey in the book to find meaning. The life lived apart from God (meaningless, chasing after the wind, heavy burden) and then the life lived in God (revere him and keep his commandments).
    Also, the book challenges man to see the limits of his own wisdom in comparison to God’s infinite and perfect wisdom. Coming out and saying that scripture is wrong is clearly saying that God is wrong (2Tim 3:16-17). I fear that McManus have taken a position above scripture rather than rightly and humbly dividing it according to the Spirit. Preachers must earn their application by good exegesis. Some of his application was very good, yet he did not earn it from the text.

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