Progress Is Overrated?

Nov 24th 2009

I don’t know if these commercials have been on tv or not.  If they have, I’ve been missing them.  But maybe they are just a youtube deal.  Anyway it is a series of story-commercials set in the Post Shredded Wheat Factory.   They are really quite good.  Listen to this one, it’s actually episode 2 in the series.

You can find the whole series at The Palace of Light.  If you listen to all of them you will hear certain themes like…”progress is overrated,” “don’t fix what isn’t broken, ” and “we have one honest ingredient.” What isn’t broken for Mr. Druffel is their “one honest ingredient.”  Nothing else matters and nothing can improve upon it.  So let’s put the “NO in innovation.

Now if you know me,  you know that I like change — and I’m not talking about the kind you find in your pocket, I can rarely hang on to that kind of change.  I like the kind of change that moves from old stuff to new stuff.  At the same time, like Post Shredded Wheat — followers of Jesus have one honest ingredient that simply cannot be improved upon.  That’s Jesus.  Paul says that we should get worried about anything that leads us away from our pure and simple devotion to Christ.  (2 Corinthians 11:3) Progress that makes it difficult to prize Jesus is not just highly overrated, it is heart-dangerous.

So I’ve been thinking about that balance between a pure devotion to one thing — knowing Christ — and a pioneering spirit that is willing to “be all things to all people so that by ALL MEANS we might win some to Jesus.”  (I Corinthians 9:22).

Not too long ago, at Catalyst I heard Chuck Swindoll say these words.

Traditions are the living faith of dead people. Traditionalism is the dead faith of living people.

So meaningful traditions that celebrate the living faith of those who in years past were devoted to Jesus — that’s a good thing.  Saying, “we can’t do that, we’ve never done it before,” — maybe not so good.  Being willing to change methods and strategies in order to awaken people to a passion for Christ is a good thing.  But so is hanging on to rituals that connect us to those who in years past were a model of a living-faith passion for Jesus.

Progress is overrated, but so is traditionalism.  Traditions might be life-giving, but innovation and change might be just as life-giving.   Perhaps the key is this…

Is the tradition, or the innovation leading us to a deeper, sometimes more risky, always more joyful experience of living faith that finds it’s end in more highly prizing Jesus? If not, let’s stop the tradition and not expend energy on the innovation.