Monday, March 1, 2010

The Christian Hyper-crite

As many of you know, I have been working on a book for a while about me growing up in Christian culture. It is probably one of a few thousand of these types of books as so many of my generation have began to look at Christian culture with a critical/cynical eye. I have been diving into some websites that muse on Christian culture, and although I found much of the comments there very funny, I slowly began to see a real disdain for Christian culture. For me, I have tried to differentiate between Christian culture and the Body of Christ. Not quite sure why at this point. Maybe it's because I think Christian culture is disconnected from the culture that God calls us to engage. It truly does seem to me that God has called us to go to the culture and build His kingdom, and instead we have went and built a culture and called it His kingdom where we rule and reign, and "give the glory to God" rather than truly being submitted to the Father, living in His family, and growing that family by His Spirit.

That is the really super spiritual reason for it. It's the reason that I use to impress others, but I think that there is another reason that is part of the darkness in my heart. It is the fact that I do not love my brothers and sisters well. I have heard so many people say that it is easier to love the lost than other Christians (which by the way, I think that many of these people are full of it. They don't really love anyone other than their shelter rescued dog and maybe their Starbucks coffee slinger). I typically nod my head in agreement, as though it was all those stupid Christian who just don't get it, and are just too difficult to deal with. They are the Christians that have made it difficult for us to engage our culture. They are the Christians that have made other people not think that we are hip or with it, or even that we are condescending, arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical. I think that there is a growing population in my generation that really scares me far more than the hypocrites. They are the hyper-critical individuals whose experiences drive their beliefs, and they have no real foundation of truth. They are a group of people who really love the lost, but really view the majority of the Body of Christ with disdain.

My friend Brady posted something a while back that has really stuck with me.  

"There’s far more authenticity in bad coffee, hard pews, and people of all generations who aren’t very cool and often aren’t very intellectual than there is in coffee shops, smartly-dressed people, and haughty lounges with only folks from one generation who think they know everything." - Paul T. McCain

I can't stop thinking about that quote. I can't stop the nagging feeling that there are far too many influences in my life that are slowly eroding my faith and my desire to connect with other believers. I used to frequently comment on a blog, and not too long ago left a comment about how I believe that one day, everyone will believe in God as we stand before him.  When we were in Colorado, we began saying the word pre-believer as a profession to that reality. Even as a profession of faith that those that we love that are lost will come to know the Father in this life, and that God would use us as the guide. God did use us as the guide.

When I mentioned this word, I was rather viciously attacked by someone who used to be a believer. I guess I can understand why such a statement would set her off, and wasn't too phased by her comment. What did take me back was the reaction by the blogger on the site. In truth, when I went back and read the comment, it could come across as arrogant and condescending. So I owned it and apologized, but the hits just kept coming. There was no reasoning, and that was compounded by the unbeliever, dare I say pre-believer, as she relentlessly attacked someone that she doesn't know. Now I am a big boy, and realize that in reality, there is no way that someone who has left their faith and myself will ever see eye to eye, but I just can't get over the bloggers comments. I can't get over how quickly that person would rush to the defense of someone who has rejected their faith and the Christ that we so love at the expense of a brother who may have been wrong, but came about it honestly, and something that was completely based in my beliefs for which I am extremely passionate.

In actuality, I wasn't wrong. Not in the least according to the theology of all those who believe, we will all stand before God and give an account of our lives, but the question is, in making that statement on this site, did I act in a way that was good, regardless if it was right nor not? Did I act in a way that was loving? Am I required to love someone on a blog site that I will never meet, will never have in my home, or will never have a real conversation with? And how is it that for so many believers, the truth has become unloving?

I think that we live in an age where Christianity is being forced to fit inside of people's, albeit broadening, world views. A growing number feel that scripture is a guide, but not absolute and inerrant. Many feel that based on their experiences, that they have arrived at a level of faith that is beyond all of those other Christians who relate to their Father through being in His scriptures, frequent intercession, and submitting to one another (and by one another, I mean other believers). Most believe that Christ is love, and if they can just love the people that they come in contact with, then that will be enough. This concept is very true in its foundations. Love is the key, and what plagues the modern church, in that so many are involved in a loveless relationship with their Father, other believers, and the lost, but I think that we are in a pendulum shift that is so common with our culture. We see it in politics in whom we elect, where one person is extremely one way, and then the next person is the polar opposite, as though somehow the opposite will make everything right. We have seen it time and time again in the Church as we have reacted to the culture around us and within.

Examples include the exclusionary tactics following the Scopes Monkey Trials, where Christian culture went into a preservation and defensive mode. We saw it though the 80's as so many prominent believers fell, and Christianity further cocooned itself to be protected by the onslaught of public scrutiny, but at the turn of the century, something changed. Christianity became more powerful. Fellowships became huge in numbers. Christians were getting people elected, steering public policy, and growing into an imperialistic corporate looking giants that many Christians, justifiably so in many instances, feel is not the heart of Christ. The pendulum shift from this age of Christianity has been that of cynicism and ridicule, as the fastest growing blog publications are geared towards "musings" in that culture. They feel that if they can distance themselves from this culture, that possibly they can become more affective in reaching the lost, or at the very least being more Christ like to others.

Not only do I understand that reaction.  I live it often. There are times when I have disdain at the waste and moral corruption in Christian culture. There are times when I look at some of these leaders on billboards with disgust, and rail against them as part of the reason why people aren't coming to Christ. It is true, much of the Body of Christ is dysfunctional, made up of believers who have fallen short, which includes every one of us, but we cannot remove ourselves from the Body because a portion of it is sick. If our human bodies acted like that, we couldn't survive a common cold. Rather than fighting against the portions of the body that are sick, we have to fight for those people, and that is where I have failed miserably.

It is easy for me to criticize on this blog, but not be fighting the real battle that is not against flesh and blood. It is easy to form opinions of these people, draw broad assumptions, and dismiss them rather than interceding, allowing the Holy Spirit to give light to the situation, and pray in faith, believing that the creator of the universe and the head of the Church can manage the affairs therein far better than my opinions. It is also extremely easy to educate myself based on the isogetical (forcing scripture to fit your world view) opinions of others rather than allowing the scriptures and the knowing of Jesus to be the foundation in my life that never moves.

It seems to me that many blogs, books, and movements in Christianity provide the fast food of Christianity. It looks and tastes amazing, but it has very little substance that is truly sustaining, and while it is at times a necessity to consume this type of information, if it is all we consume, then the damage done can be very difficult to reverse. So I am not saying get rid of your blog roll (shameless self promotion), but I am saying that in and of themselves, these blogs will not sustain you. Your small group will not sustain you. How much you serve and how much you worship will not sustain you. There is only one living water. There is only one Word that is fully nourishing.

4 comments:

  1. As usual, you take what I think and put it into words. =) Can't wait to see your book!!

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  2. i don't think we are the first generation to deal with the phenomenon where our culture gets invaded with an onslaught of an unmanageable amount of overly zealous yet unintentionally misguided people. it's a tough subject that i think is becoming relevant to many bodies around the world everyday.

    there has been a shift in attitude in the social climate in general that seems to have permeated christian megaculture as well. in kennedy's famous soundbite "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" he is making a very profound notion that we have a duty to others. what would be the point in saying this unless he was noticing a growing trend of a new generation with a dangerous sense of entitlement?

    when i mention church to my non participating friends, (usually "christian" but uninterested in fellowship) there is a worldly part of me that kicks in to my thoughts that says, "if my church had the right music, or the coolest people to fellowship with, then maybe i could get my friends to come" and for an instant i really think this is true.

    but the truth is, that there is nothing transformative about comfort. for the past few years i've been more vocal about this common misconception about what church is for.

    chasing the secret for what makes church cool is as pointless and meaningless as chasing the secret of popularity. no matter how hard you try, you'll always be guessing at what people expect of you.

    if we put as much energy into finding out what God expects of us and what Jesus intends for us as we put into gaining the respect of our peers, i think we'd be closer to the unrevealed photograph of what Kingdom life is supposed to look like.

    the revelations i have gained from active church life have many times been from interacting with people i don't necessarily like, and doing things that don't sound like fun, and singing songs that would never make it to my ipod, and being prayed for by strangers, and spending long periods of time in ugly buildings with old furnishings.

    somehow, oddly enough, God manages to show me his beauty in people i do like, and in doing things that sound like fun, and songs that are on my ipod, and being prayed for by friends, and spending long periods of time in beautiful buildings with new furnishings. the only difference seems to be that in fancy church i find myself ministering to others more and in icky church i find myself getting ministered to more.

    when my friends tell me, "i don't really feel like doing that." my response is, "neither do i, that's why i'm going"

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  3. I enjoyed your message. A few years back I went to Paradise Valley College in Phx, AZ and he taught about how our generation is being lead by culture. He used many verses from 1 John that points out how we should love our brothers and sisters in Christ and who "Christians" truly were and called to be. It opened my eyes to watch salvation truly meant. He is still teaching there, the same message to these college students. He is a pastor at First Baptist Church of Cave Creek, Pastor Sam Trommler. He might have a few words that might inspire you.

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  4. *what salvation truly meant. Grammar check. :)

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