I have a hard time once something spiritual floats to the mainstream surface. It just loses something to me. I usually discount it and curl my lip at those who are on the bandwagon after the thing has wholesale cultural acceptance-religious or secular. Such was the case with Rick Warren and the “Purpose-Driven Life” empire. I read the “Purpose-Driven Life” when it first came out in 2002. I liked it. I still like it. Once it became super popular though I began resenting it and sneered at the simplification of the Christian life into five categories. I believe spiritual theology does have to be individualized (after certain basics are established). A person’s journey with Jesus is personal, distinct, and special. Needs are different from person to person, personal history and baggage vary, and gifts and gaffes are not the same. But every generation need spokemen who can articulate the kingdom plainly, intelligibly, and memorably. Rick Warren has that gift.
Two articles I’ve read recently has formed admiration in me for how God is using this man. There are always those who are quick to criticize a person’s popularity, usually with little knowledge of the facts, so I thought I’d take the time to give some positive publicity. The first article was about Saddleback Church’s P.E.A.C.E. plan for developing countries. P.E.A.C.E. stands for Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. 4,500 members from Saddleback have traveled to 47 countries testing this.
The second article was an interview that covered many different topics. What popped out at me was Warren’s comments about dealing with affluence and influence. In the past three years an enormous wave of affluence washed up on Rick and his wife, Kay. “The Purpose-Driven Life” has become the best-selling hardback in American history. This has meant tens of millions of dollars in revenue. What happens to a person suddenly so filthy rich? And what do you do with all that money? The influence Warren has all of a sudden is just as enormous. He has given counsel to the White House and Congress. He has been approached by billionares asking him to disciple them. The president of Rwanda contacted him saying his book changed his life. The influence is staggering.
If you’re not familiar with Warren or his books perhaps this piques your interest. If you are familiar and have had the same curling of the lip that I had perhaps you will take the time to learn a little more.