The Search

While watching football this past weekend with my brother-in-law, my attention was drawn to a new commercial. It was immediately apparent this commercial bore a serious message. The ethereal chime of the background music and the hushed tone of the narrator drew me in fully. I was convinced by the 15 second mark this was indeed a spiritual message. Had the Christian community finally invested the time and resources to develop a quality media production? Well, in short…no.

As the commercial progressed in a crescendo of culmination, it became apparent the production was sponsored by none other than the church of scientology. My brother-in-law and I looked at each other with that classic “you have got to be joking” expression written across our foreheads. It was as if you were expecting cookies when you see the girl scouts at your door, only to find out they are now selling magazine subscriptions. However, as I thought about the emphasis of the commercial, I was struck by how a cult consisting of such superficiality could identify, and target, a cultural reality which runs deeper than the christian church has been willing to recognize.

I have included a copy of the commercial below.

C.S. Lewis carried a consistent theme through his writings regarding his concern for what evangelism looks like in a culture that rejects a moral code. What effect does it have on a nonbeliever when describing how God took our “badness” and made it “good” if the hearer has no innate definition of “badness” or “goodness”? A common reaction to the sharing of one’s faith story or conversion experience is as follows; “I am happy for you as you have clearly found something that has created an opportunity for you to be a better person.” The barrier lies in the thousand “somethings” that get you from point A to point B.

Faith stories and conversion experiences in and of themselves seem to feed the proverbial agnostic monster in a culture of relativism. The atheist and agnostic love to hear us tell our personal stories about how God saved us from alcoholism, pornography, adultery and greed. They stand and applaud our efforts of becoming more productive citizens. We will hear them congratulate us on finding Christianity as our “something” that provides a means to achieving a better balance and a happier life. However, they will tell us definitively that our personal experience has nothing to do with any ultimate truth.

That is what is so surprising to me about this most recent emphasis of the Scientology movement. The scientologists have recently fallen on hard times. There have been scandals, arrests, and prosecutions, and the spin machine is working overtime. However, in this 60 second plug we experience a very appealing call to discover an ultimate truth, an ultimate reality that satisfies a deep longing we all share. I think the technique is attractive to our truth starved culture, and I am sure the agnostic elite is thinking; “wait a minute, I thought you were one of us?!?”

I would like to suggest the church of scientology borrowed their methodology from none other than the Word of God. And I think the church of Jesus Christ may do well to “take a page” out of that old L. Ron Hubbard Dianetics book your crazy aunt from Tupelo gave you for Christmas 15 years ago.

Consider one of the most well know testimonials in the bible. In the 26th Chapter of Acts, Paul is brought before King Agrippa (a king with a pedigree for killing Christians) to defend himself. We see Paul clearly describe his conversion on the road to Damascus, but he doesn’t stop there. In fact, I think Paul uses his conversion experience to expand on a radical truth claim. Paul challenges his audience to see the very reason they wake each morning, the very essence of history, and the call of their long dead fathers and prophets is the source of that light on the road and the reality of that source demands a choice. Do you, or do you not believe the truth?

Paul then proclaims in verse 29 that belief in the source of that light brings freedom, even while he is bound in chains. Paul knows that a changed heart and life can only give testimony to God’s grace and power when combined with the challenge to see the truth for what it is…the very thing we are all searching for.

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