Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Why by Jake Kampe

If you have kids, you know all too well that they will eventually go through the inevitable “why” stage. As their inquisitive and rapidly expanding minds develop, the questions about life become seemingly endless. Whether the query be simplistic, complex or just rhetorical, each answer that we muster with every ounce of patience will almost always result in the guaranteed follow up question: “Why?”

“Daddy, what are you doing on your laptop?”

“I’m writing an article for an online magazine.”

“Why?”

“Because someone asked me to.”

“Why?”

“Because he likes how I write and what I have to say.”

“Why?”

“Good question”…..But I digress.

You see, to a child, the “what” is not nearly as important to them as the “why”. The “what” is apparent. It’s tangible. A child can see the “what”. They can touch and hold it. The “what” might make sounds and even talk to them. But the “why” is a different story altogether. The “why” is often hidden, just below the surface, waiting patiently to be discovered, diagnosed, analyzed, picked apart and judged. At times the “why” seems unimportant, miniscule and secondary. But when looked upon in the big picture, and seen as more than a just a utilitarian connection to the “what”, we find that the “why” can be the essential aspect to the desires of life. And so it is with each of our spiritual journeys.

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about technology.  Our conversation first progressed at a superficial level, but as with most of my conversations, spirituality crept into the discussion and eventually led toward the spiritual. Even well into the day, the topic continued to tap at my psyche and pushed me to meditate on it further. It was one of those conversations where neither of you really grasp the depth of the dialogue, until much later. At that point, you find yourself wishing that person was still there so that you could expound upon the depth of what you discovered. For me, I just end up talking to myself and role-playing until my point is made; and proved “right”, I might add.

As our discussion progressed, my friend made an interesting observation about Apple, and the main reason that the company has found such astronomical success over the last 30 years or so. At first glance, one might attribute Apple’s technological achievements to a seemingly obvious factor: products.  Especially today, with the culture revolutionizing iPhone and iPad, the products that Apple produces are really second to none. I mean, how many products out there have been integrated into modern society more effectively than Apple? Apple is not only a product; it’s a vehicle of pop culture, business, communication, technology, music, entertainment, etc. Apple is more than product. But “why”?

Think about it for a second. Is the point of my ramblings a question or the answer? Imagine an Apple commercial for the iPhone 5 that simply displayed the Apple logo with “iPhone 5” directly under it, in lowercase unassuming lettering. Would that ad be as effective as a full blown advertising campaign, complete with descriptions of elaborate endless functions of the iPhone 5 with the cool sleek packaging that contains them? Think about it for a second more. Remember. Apple is not only a product. Apple has become a way of living…Apple is more than a product. Apple is not only a “what”; it’s the “why”. How has Apple found such unparalleled success compared to other equally technologically advanced companies? Because Apple focuses on the “why”, rather than the “what”; Apple’s marketing focuses on why you should purchase their products by showing us how it’s used in everyday life, much more so than the actual product. You see yourself living like that cool, hip twenty-something on their way to the next concert, or penthouse party or high-dollar business deal because they have an iPad. That’s why you need an iPad.

With most things in our lives, we flock to what answers the questions. Deep within the recesses of our soul, we don’t so much seek “what”, as we do “why”. And as I said above, the spiritual connection rises to the surface. How? Well, start by taking a look around your immediate cultural surroundings. We live in a culture that is consumed by the “what”, but subconsciously driven by the “why”. Consequently, because of its obsession with the culture around it, the Church has become entirely preoccupied with the “what”. Whether it’s the latest program, best-selling book, trendiest speaker, most captivating video, deepest worship, catchiest catch phrase, or whatever next big thing that lies on the horizon, the Church is obsessed with the all-mighty, holier-than-holy “what”. Lights! Camera! Action!

I believe that the Church is at a pivotal point in history. We are at a breaking point that unfortunately may need to break rather than be repaired. The “why” screams out as the “what” weighs down upon the Bride of Christ to the point that she can no longer stand on her own. The “what” is suffocating her, and forcing her into submission. Like a codependent relationship, the “what” is smothering her to the point that she is no longer healthy. The “what” is screaming in her ear, so loud that she no longer hears what she was created for. The collective chant of, “What? What? What?” echoes through her psyche until she has no other choice but the scream back in defiance, “WHY?”

“Why?”

“Christ”

Imagine a Church that is revolutionized by the “why”: Christ. Imagine a community of people that are utterly consumed and captivated by Him, His love and transformational power. Imagine the Kingdom of God breaking through into this dark world, overwhelming the “what” until only the “why” remains. Imagine a Church that is truly different; not because the difference lies in the “what”, but because the “why” is all there is. When we release the insignificance of the “what” and how it has overwhelmed the purpose of the Kingdom, we can no longer ignore the “why”. Christ came to do away with the “what”. He came to give us the “why” so that the burden of the “what” would disappear. Not only have we picked it up again, but we’ve attempted to make it heavier than it has ever been.

Ask yourself, “why?” Why are you a follower of Christ? Is it because of the “what”, or the “why”? Why do you worship on Sunday morning? Why are you part of a small group community? Why are you flying to Africa, driving to the slums of your city or writing that check? Why did you help that family repair their home or help feed that group of homeless people downtown? Why are you listening to that particular song on that Christian radio station? Why did you pray for that person with cancer? Why do you fly that flag or cast that vote? Why are you reading this? Why are you listening to what I have to say? Why?

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