Virga Christianity

I love the Southwest. Here God has created some of the greatest sky-scapes on earth. One of the more interesting things that shows up in the American Southwestern sky is the phenomenon of virga—visible rain coming down from the clouds but which evaporates before it hits the ground. It is quite odd to watch rain fall from clouds only to stop a few hundred feet above the ground. Although pretty and almost identical to rain—virga is completely useless to the parched sun-drenched desert below.
Recently in a trip from Albuquerque to Arizona-winding through the mountains of the border between Arizona and New Mexico—I was under one of the largest and driest rain storms I’ve ever witnessed. For hours the virga was falling in waves. Meanwhile the parched desert highlands continued unaided by the massive amounts of falling moisture.
I imagine the rain all ready up in the clouds was all excited about its several mile plunge to help the dry land below. “Cannon Ball!” it yells, falling all that distance, then it hits the desert’s hard hot air. “I’m not going to put up with this,” it screams, and hightails it back up to the cool clouds.
Christianity is inundated with the virga crowd. In fact, a great deal of our modern Christianity is only virga. They cheer with enthusiasm, put fish stickers on their cars, and let it be well known that they attend church. They sing loudly and with great emotion. If challenged, they would be insulted beyond measure that their Christianity is in anyway less that anyone else’s. They just have a different style and are quick to point out that no one should ever judge them. (Which is decidedly unbiblical but that is not the point of this discussion. We’ll deal with that later.) The real difference is when it comes to doing.
Virga Christians are not less enthusiastic—usually they are more so—they are not less sincere either, even though sincerity is not the glowing virtue some make it out to be. The problem is that when it comes to the hard day-in day-out living of the Christian life, they quit. It’s all well and good to sing in church and maybe even give a few dollars, but if they were told they needed to actually live a vibrantly moral life or tithe, they fizzle up under the pressure and back up into the clouds they go.
C. S. Lewis in Screwtape’s letters talks this change between doing and dreaming. He states that there is disappointment that marks the beginning of every human endeavor and is the transition from dreaming aspiration into laborious doing. That is the dry air that evaporates away the spiritual usefulness of most of the church. They can’t handle the hardship that comes from a lack of ease and fulfilled expectation.
A person quits when he realizes that working with the children’s ministry is not talking to the dozens of well-mannered attentive angels that come to the church at the ages of 4-10, but is actually the dealing with misbehaving, squirming, petty, real children that need spiritual, social, mental, and sometimes even hygienically based guidance. His imaginary view is crushed under the pressure of reality, and the person’s spirituality is dry and dusty under the never-ending storm clouds of his apathetic virga.
If a person never does the things that are right, then it does them and those around them no good that they know about them. Jesus warned against this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that a foolish person hears what He has to say and doesn’t do it. No amount of singing praise songs will save one from destruction if they ignore the actual doing commanded in the Bible.
Some people are in churches that actually avoid dealing with the issue of Spiritual doing—mainly because these churches were built by offering a pseudo-spirituality that requires nothing or less from the people. Without the spiritual exercise of doing the spiritual life dries into a harsh forbidding desert and through the spiritual drought the mental, physical, and moral life of the person starts to die.
This allows the rather depressing statistics of the world and the church having the same or nearly the same rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, drug use and other sins. Since Christians by and large aren’t overcoming the resistance built into doing, they lack a really Christian life, with its convictions, holiness, righteousness, and, most importantly, victory.
God didn’t intend that His people slog through life as the victims of poor circumstance. The Bible tells us that we are more than conquerors, but living virga lifestyle destroys that possibility. Doing, not dreaming( no matter how enthusiastic the dreams), is what will make a real difference in the lives of the Christian. It is a lack of faith to call oneself a Christian and not live and do the precepts of the Bible.
On my trip through the virga rainstorm, I ran into a small patch of real rain. It was a mere drizzle, but it was rain. That rain overcame the resistance of the dry air and made it all the way to the ground—and it made a difference in the dry landscape. All the virga didn’t, but those few drops did. Christian, you can overcome the dryness that accompanies doing and you’ll make a difference doing so.
Mat 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:
for it was founded upon a rock