The classic tale of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein depicts a man who, after attending university, is driven with the idea of creating life. Dr Victor Frankenstein travels to the North Pole and pulls together parts of corpses to create this creature. After reanimating this monster and it becomes alive, it flees into the wilderness. There it reads moral philosophy, becoming intelligent and more like a human. After many years away it returns to Dr Frankenstein, demanding a mate to be created. This does not go down well and the monster then kills all of the doctor’s loved ones. In the end, Dr Frankenstein’s work led to him losing everything. He intended to make life, but all he had in the end was loss.
Shelley’s depiction of Frankenstein’s monster asks some important question. What happens when we overstep the boundaries of the way God intends things to be? She wrote: “Supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” A long, complicated sentence basically saying we are prone to make monsters of God’s work, not masterpieces.
Now monsters cause people to run away, not towards them. If the church is actually doing this, we need to understand how it is doing it and begin moving back to the way God wanted it to be. We all want people to find healing, not hurting. The church risks making monsters of God’s masterpieces when:
1. We take beliefs originally intended to be a blessing to ourselves and to the world and turn them into weapons to harm others.
One example is wearing fine clothes or jewellery. I’ve heard it numerous times by Christians how bad it is for women to be wearing jewellery. To wear a necklace or a ring is considered to be sin. People have been told to take off all their jewellery before stepping into a church even. Never mind the original intent of encouraging Christians to dress modestly was a matter of money and mindful management of it, not dressing in dull clothes. Instead it has become an end in itself.
As a result, many a religious person is happy to tell off a young girl for her rings or earrings, while the very same person is spending excessive amounts of money on technology, food or property. Again, the original intent of the topic which was, “What is important when it comes to our wallet?” has become, “What are you wearing?” Talk about making a monster out of a masterpiece!
And might I add, this doesn’t just apply to clothing. It applies to a range of areas. Everything from the way churches run to the way we interact with other parts of culture.
2. We take the Bible, intended to be a narrative which leads to Jesus Christ, and use it to push our own agenda or opinions.
Bible texts, taken out of beautiful masterpieces of literature, are made to mean something entirely different. The bible is torn apart, butchered, murdered. As long as we can find 10 bible texts on a topic, this will be enough to prove our point of view. (What happens when we put together different lists and they contradict? Arguments!) Then, once they have pulled all these limbs from the dead corpse of the Bible, they stitch it together and reanimate it in the way they want it.
It’s safe to say we do this most often when we are wanting to prove our creed or our beliefs instead of listening to what the Bible has to say for itself. We make ourselves the infallible standard, of which no one can ever seem to reach, resulting in a rigid attitude which is unwilling to listen or to dialogue. We must listen afresh to what the Bible is trying to say instead of trying to make it say what I’m thinking.
3. We make the destination of faith a pew, not a personal relationship with God that then positively permeates our world.
A relationship with Jesus was meant to impact all other relationships for the better. Too many people make Christianity into accepting some information, saying the right things, or completing certain acts once a week. Real love and concern for the needy is replaced with religious acts in a building once a week. Programs fill our lives instead of meaningful time with people. This is the monster of all monsters. Sure, it looks alive. But how long until it comes to destroy everything? It’s only a matter of time until the monster comes knocking on the door.
Have you encountered Frankenstein’s monster in your church? Which monster have you come across the most? Share an experience in the comment’s section and let’s start the conversation.