When the ‘me Generation” became Christians, we baptised this egocentrism. We now felt guilty for spending all our money on ourselves. So we gave it to the church. Mainly to our own local church. The church growth (megachurch) movement was led by baby boomers and populated with the ‘me generation.’ We built modern cathedrals with children’s ministry spaces that Disney would covet. We still gave (and give) money to missions, but preferably for a trip that includes me. We sing the (beautiful) praise chorus ‘It’s all about you, Jesus.’ Who are we kidding? It’s all about Jesus – as long as it’s in a service I like, in a building I like, with people I like, with music I like, for a length of time I like.
We wholeheartedly affirm both of these statements: that the Bible applies to us and that God is not capricious. The problem is that these foundational ideas are tweaked when we view them through the lens of me. The Christian church has always believed that the Scriptures are for us. But our historical location changes what that means. As Eugene Peterson has argued, the original process through which God worked with his people was through speaking-writing-reading (aloud)-listening. That is, until the Reformation, people heard the Scripture in church – and only in Church. That mean the natural question when interpreting the Bible was “What does this mean to us?” With the double-edged gift of Gutenberg’s printing press, the process is often reduced merely to writing-reading. Now we read the Bible alone in our homes. This allows a communal process to become individualised. Worse, one can own the Word of God (meaning a book), rather than hear the Word of God, which is usually a communal act. The act of carrying around a book gives the individual the perception: I have the Word of God. Now instead of asking, ‘”what does this mean to us?” or instinctive question is ‘What does this mean to me?”