What is the antidote for wimpy Christianity?
The phrase in Spectacular Sins that this question is referring to is "wimpy worldviews produce wimpy Christians." This book is an attempt to put steel in the spine of wimpy Christians.
Now here's why I went this route (I write about this in the introduction): I have a very big, strong, powerful, majestic vision of God, and some people hear me talk about it and they don't get help. They feel wounded, broken, weak, and hurt, and they feel like, "I don't need that! I need somebody to hold me. I need somebody to kiss me. I need somebody to be kind and gentle with me, and your vision of God is just so heavy and big and strong and majestic It doesn't connect emotionally with me."
Now I'm aware of that. I talk to these people. I'm a pastor. I've been a pastor for 29 years. I know the variety that is out there. So in the introduction I pose the question, "So if you know that, Pastor John, then why are you writing another book like this?"
This book is so tough. It is so big. It demands such incredibly large-minded capacities to get around such an incredibly sovereign, great, wise God. Where is the tenderness?
And my argument is this: I need that kind of God too. I'm just a little boy inside lots of times—very confused, very frightened, very worried—and I don't want God to just come with a Sherman tank displaying his firepower for me to admire. I want that. In my best moments I want that. I want to admire his firepower. But I need him to get out of the tank and put his arm around me. I need him to stay with me late at night and tell me, "I'm patient. I'm with you. I love you. I died for you. I'm your friend, the best you'll ever have."
I know that. I need that. I'm not foreign to that. I live in that. But I just read my Bible, and the Bible says he is going to throw you like sheep in the midst of wolves (Matthew 10:16). "If they hated me, they're going to hate you" (John 15:18-19). "Through many tribulations you must enter the kingdom" (Acts 14:22).
Now I'm a pastor. If that's coming—if the beast is coming, if torture is coming, if death is coming—wimpy worldviews when a flood wipes 10,000 people out around you won't suffice.
Admittedly, when I talk about steel being put in the spine of wimpy Christians by having a great, global, strong, majestic view of God, it conjures up emotions that are not as tender as we sometimes need. So here's the analogy that I came up with.
Say a car is about to roll over on you, and there is lying beside you a tire iron (shaped like a X and about 18 inches or so long). You see the car tipping to come down on you. You're about to be killed and it will probably be painful. What you need is to quickly take the tire iron and stick it in the ground beside you so that the car catches on it about 4 inches from your face. Say it catches the car on its axle or something—rather than just puncturing the gas tank—and you're able to slither out from underneath. Now when you get home that night and you look at that tire iron, you're going to need more than a tire iron. You're going to be so trembling, so frightened, so scared and so broken about how you almost died that you're going to want God to come and get his arm around you and say, "I saved you and I love you so much... and I did it with a piece of steel."
That's all I'm saying. As part of the big picture of who God is, there are seasons in life when you're going to need steel. They come pretty regularly, and my argument is that they are coming more frequently as we get near the end of the age. And I'm trying to write steel without being insensitive to the warmth of God.