Modern Christianity has a problem - instead of focusing on the redemption of Jesus and being the church, most people are just content with living inside of a created Christian subculture that's too busy focusing on the sin of others and sharing their own take on them, rather than actually BEING the church. In today's post, Joey brings up some of his issues with a lot of Christians today, and what we can do to go about fixing them.
The church stands on so many different principles while the world around it is only starving for Jesus. Want to know the crazy part? They don’t even realize they’re hungry for Him. As the multitudes wait for hope, a satisfying truth to fill a void, the world is crumbling. While people continue looking for a City on a Hill that shines a bright light of hope, misery persists.
Instead, what they find is a huge projection of a PowerPoint slide in the sky, listing the ways in which Christians are different and/or better than others; how culture is wrong; gays misinformed; Republicans are the answer; Democrats are more Jesus-like; what America will have to do in order to resume being a nation under God; how hypocrites will be punished; lists of Christian bands and Christian t-shirts; the newest way of being ‘Christian hip’; an assessment of how the latest blog post by “those Christians” went too far; the newest way of explaining why certain Christian leaders fell into sin; the most politically correct way for these same Christian leaders publically admitting their sin; and why we should feel let down by Michael Gungor’s willingness to be honest in his pursuit of truth.
If this first paragraph doesn’t bum you out, you either deny this reality exists in major sects of church culture, or you have been desensitized to the supremacy of Jesus, which, in turn, has led you to agree that at least some of this stuff is important. This makes me sad. It also makes me pretty damn proud of Jesus for STILL doing His glorious work of redeeming all things back to himself through any person, any church, any hypocrite (including myself) that has the gospel on his or her lips.
During the first 20 minutes of our 21st podcast episode, Matt, Toby and I discussed how a lot of our Christian readers handled our previous podcast guest, Jay Bakker. Basically, Matt posted something on our Facebook about our interview with Jay Bakker, and essentially acknowledged him as a cool guy, a Christian Pastor, and one with very unorthodox beliefs on the atonement, hell and homosexuality. Now, in all sincerity, maybe Jay IS lost. Maybe he ISgoing to hell. Who are we to know the ways of the Lord? How can we truly know another’s heart beyond any doubt? But the most important question: Why did Christians feel so obligated to go on the attack?
Take it or leave it, here’s what we concluded:
1. Christian society is turning into a computer-driven and often voyeuristic society of many individuals that are able to keep their identity concealed, while proudly saying whatever belittling words they can compose, in an effort to make what they think to be hard-hitting, profound points. Typically, these folks are actually cowards. While they blast others, they aren’t even coming CLOSE to being open about their own sin.
2. Toby pointed out the craziness that Christians are using a book (the Bible) written by murderers, cowards, and adulterers who have been given unmerited grace, and while they use these authors’ words, grace is the last thing they are willing to give to those they target.
3. Note, these bullies really believe that going on the attack is more beneficial than showing love, which is ironic in the least and hypocritical at worst.
Here’s what we asked:
1. What do Christians think they GET out of taking these stands and putting people in their places?
2. Is there a power, control, or credibility that these folks feel they have over other people because they don’t have the exact same belief system?
3. Could there be a disease hidden deeply within Christianity whose symptoms include the tendency of thinking “we are in control,” “MY knowledge of right and wrong legitimizes myself in some way” and “I am for ME and what I believe”? If so, these sorts of conclusions/postures set you AGAINST others that do not see eye to eye.
Folks, I’ll be honest. I can’t take it anymore. It gives me one big fat headache. And yet, I also can’t take the “easy way out” and just writing it off as something to ignore. I am to bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2), and I am connected to a body of believers in which if Paul said he was the least of, who am I to disconnect from it and walk away?
We love the church. We wrote about it here. Sometimes love is painful. In fact, love is probably the most painful thing in my life. Just worrying about my kids takes me to the point of nausea. I grieve to the point of a migraine about a senseless argument with my wife, deeply regretting my shortcomings as a husband.
Loving the church brings about the same aching. It’s painful to feel so different sometimes. We’ve heard this from many of our readers/listeners too often. You feel this ache too. The point is, if you didn’t love the church, you wouldn’t care about this tension in your heart.
It’s painful to speak out against the church. Even if it’s with no ill-intent and laced with love, some will still call you and me hypocrites, and judges, and divisive pricks. They’d always be right about the first one, but hopefully not the other two, right?
It’s painful to grieve when we see the church through the eyes of those outside of it; a perspective we must take responsibility for because we are the church, and the church has gotten away from Jesus.
My friends, it’s time we abort anything other than Jesus. I tweeted it from @xbadchristianx, but it’s worth repeating: “Brothers and sisters in Christ, the world doesn’t need a bullshit Christian subculture. It needs the church.”
Are you willing to truly be the church? If so, here’s a list of things to think about. In my opinion, it’s a fundamental start that will help change the culture and effectiveness of the church for decades to come:
A. You accepted Christ and found what you believe to be the answer, but it’s still a belief. I personally believe that Jesus is Lord and I’m 99% sure most of the time, but it’s still a belief, and this puts me in the same category as every other human being. I don’t know for sure what the truth is.
B. You are in a constant state of need. You are in constant need of forgiveness, and thankfully, grace never runs out. How. About. That.
C. The world typically doesn’t give a shit about your take on issues. Those issues don’t bring life nor do they bring redemption, both of which the world is hungry for (often without even knowing it). These things only follow within Jesus’ job description. Let’s talk about Him instead. With him as the centerpiece, maybe there will be time for fruitful discussion about the issues. Maybe it’s not needed in a particular scenario. It’s certainly not needed at first.
D. The authors of the Bible had a deeper understanding of who they were in Christ. Think of the shame Peter had to live with when he denied Christ. Think of how powerful Jesus’ love is to release Peter from that guilt. Think critically of how you use scripture to put yourself on a platform of intellectual or moral supremacy on which you do not belong.
All joking aside, if you aren’t willing to do these things, we’d lovingly ask you, for the cause of Christ, keep your mouth closed until you figure this out.