I have a problem. I start reading too many books and rarely finish any of them. I think I’m currently attempting to read 5 different ones on a broad spectrum of different topics. That number may actually be too low, as I may have forgotten a few. The funny thing is I won’t remember until I start reading a book from the beginning only to realize that I’ve read the first 7 or 8 chapters. One of the things I enjoy about my Kindle is that it tells me what percentage of a book I have read which tends to keep me on track. Another thing I love about it is the highlighting feature that allows me to view all the “highlights” I have made in a given book and glean from even those small bits of wisdom.
I was recently sorting through the books on my Kindle and came across one I hadn’t picked up in a while. Mushrooms on the Moor is a fantastic little book by a relatively unknown author and minister named Frank Boreham. Mr. Boreham was a Baptist minister in New Zealand and Australia from 1895 until his death in 1959. During that time he became a very prolific author writing nearly 50 books and a newspaper editorial every week for 47 years. And yet, despite this plethora of work, Mr. Boreham is virtually unknown and his most popular book remains hidden in obscurity. Despite his virtual anonymity in the Christian world today, I would highly recommend downloading this ebook (for free) from Amazon especially if you are a fan of Chesterton and Lewis. He writes in a very similar fashion and comes to conclusions that are equally as profound.
As I was going back through some of the highlights I had made in Mr. Boreham’s little book, a portion of a chapter stuck out to me like a sore thumb. It stuck out because I think that in modern Christianity, particularly in the young, restless, evangelical, twenty/thirty-something crowd, there is an increasing issue that few are addressing. Hero worship. Hero emulation. Hero deification. I love the fact that I can watch a sermon by Driscoll, Piper, Keller, or Chandler at any given moment with an internet connection. What makes me cautious is the belief that the only way to be successful, the only way I can have a voice, the only way anyone will read to what I write or listen to what I preach is if it sounds like one of those men. And not like in the Pauline sense (“Follow me as I follow Christ), but the Hero worship sense (If I don’t wave my hands like Piper or have clever one-liners like Driscoll or speak contemplatively yet passionately like Keller then I won’t know what to say or how to say it). And this problem isn’t new. It’s as old as human kind. We’ve been sucked into this ploy for eons and forever. In the rabbinic traditions before and after Jesus, disciples would aim to BE their rabbi. Walk like they walk. Talk like they talk. Write like they write. The modern day version of this doesn’t only occur with modern day pastors, writers, and thinkers. It is just as easily said regarding any number of people from Church History. “I want to sound fiery and passionate with an axe to grind like Luther and no one will listen to me unless I do…” or “I want to write deep theological works like Aquinas or Augustine and no one will listen to me unless I do…”
I was, and still am, guilty of this hero worship and as I reread that portion of that unknown book by that unknown author, the Holy Spirit used those words to challenge and correct me. I’ll leave them with you and trust that same Holy Spirit may convict you of sin and lead you into righteousness as well.
“A man’s faith should fit him like the clothes for which has been most carefully measured, if not like the elastic silk to which the Harvard professor refers. A man might as well try to wear his father’s clothes as to try to wear his father’s faith. It will never really fit him…Our souls no more resemble each other than our bodies; they are not made in a mould and turned out by the million. No two are exactly alike. Ready-made clothes will never exactly fit. Bonar and James, Bunyan and Law, Doddridge and Wesley, Muller and Spurgeon, may help me amazingly. They may help me by showing me how they—each for himself—found their way into the presence of the Eternal and, like Christian at the Palace Beautiful, were robed and armed for the pilgrimage. But if they lead me to suppose that I must experience their sensations, enjoy their elations, pass through their depressions, struggle and laugh and weep and sing just as they did, they have done me serious damage. They have led me away from those secret chambers in which the King adorns the soul in beautiful and comely garments, and they have left me a mere wearer of ready-made clothes.”
This is Christianity.