I was recently listening to the new Bruce Springsteen album and heard a song that hit me like an epiphany. He likely intended it to be a political statement but it resonated in my heart as a spiritual statement when his trademark graveled voice snarled the chorus.
Rainmaker, a little faith for hire
Rainmaker, the house is on fire
Rainmaker, take everything you have
Sometimes folks need to believe in something so bad, so bad, so bad
They’ll hire a rainmaker
Some seasons can feel so dry and desolate that we’ll do anything to bring the rain. In the cultural landscape of western evangelicalism, we find our churches in decline and our influence waning. The times are changing, and it can seem as though we won’t see the rain again. We’re tempted to hire a rainmaker.
We won’t call them a rainmaker. We’ll call them a marketeer, a church growth consultant, or, perhaps, we’ll call them Pastor. The intent is much the same. We’re looking for someone to come in and work their magic to make things happen.
Scripture is replete with natural examples highlighting the incapability of mankind to produce supernatural results. Speaking to Nicodemus about being born again Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8a). Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a man scattering seed on the ground and said, “He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how” (Mark 4:27).
Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel was amidst God’s command to present himself to Ahab as the preface to the coming rain. God showed himself as the one true God in the falling fire to the false prophets and as the only true rainmaker as Elijah bowed seven times and sent his servant to look toward the sea (1 Kings 18).
Neither church growth strategies, ministry conferences, the latest released books, nor pastors fresh out of seminary are rainmakers. There is only one Rainmaker. There are no talismans we can bring or precise words we can say to see the results we want in seasons of drought. All we can bring is our dependence on the one and only true Rainmaker and work the land he’s given us with faith in the means he’s commanded.
There is room to expand our reach. We can reach out through better websites, add podcasts to our ministry repertoire, and seek to improve our ministries. Those are good and worthy endeavors, but they are not rainmakers. Depending on such pursuits to bring the rain is as foolish as driving to higher ground and firing buckshot into the clouds.
Instead, we should live our lives, serve our neighbors, speak the truth of the Gospel in the context of those relationships, and pray in faithful dependence on the One who brings the rain. Springsteen’s metaphor may have come across as an angry political protest, but it reminded me that we should be righteously angry when we see idolatry masquerading as spiritual results.