Here is something I found while bopping around in the blogosphere this week. This is a confessional piece, a bare-knuckled rant against much of what Christianity has become in our day and age. If any of you out there are feeling frustrated with what Christianity has become nowadays, this may be the post for you.
A few ideas in response to this:
–“The arguments about faith and church and God are no longer compelling as they are framed by Christians. I know the arguments before they make them, and I can’t go back someplace I’ve already been.” I can identify with this to a certain extent. I have lost a lot of the zeal that I once felt for expressions of faith that are considered important within the evangelical community, and I simply don’t want to go back there because it’s somewhere I’ve already been. I touched on this in my “Gold Mines” post, and maybe I will unpack this some more in later posts.
–“The overwhelming majority of Christians don’t practice anything that looks remotely like Jesus.” I would agree with this. I love the power of the next sentence: “…appeals to substitutionary atonement don’t add up to shit when people are watching and asking what is distinctive about Christianity.”
Francis Chan addressed this in his message at Passion 07 when he asked the question why what we see in the church nowadays looks nothing like what is written about in the New Testament. He said that our spiritual stature has shrunk to the point where any microscopic vestige of godliness is enough to qualify a person for sainthood.
I have been chewing on this a lot lately. We have sunk to the point when things such as remaining a virgin until marriage, giving just a little over 10 percent, not cheating on tests or in business, are considered evidence of radical faith. Why? Why are such things even talked about as distinctives of the Christian life? Unbelievers can do these things also. Do we think that we can merely add a layer consisting of some form of intellectual assent to something concerning Jesus to all of this and expect it to make our faith distinctive from what the rest of the world believes and practices?
–“Heaven is someplace I don’t want to be.” I would agree with this, if heaven were simply an endless church service with organ music, or an endless Christian rock concert. But there is much more to heaven than that. Heaven is a state where all the wrong that is in this world will be put right, and it is something which we ought to be working toward even now, to the extent that we are able.
–In conclusion, the author of this post talks about Jesus, saying that despite the awful things he sees in Christianity nowadays, he can’t let go of Jesus. “I can’t help but believe that he was something more than us, and I can’t help but believe that he rose from the dead, and I can’t help but believe he did something cosmic on the cross in terms of exposing and overcoming the powers. That requires I believe in resurrection and in God. It does not, however, require that I believe the Church is what he came to start or that it has been the best medium for the transmission of that message or that it has embodied an ethic that looks anything like Jesus. In fact, I’m convinced that more often than not, the church has been and continues to be antichrist.”
Strictly from a human standpoint, I would agree with this. But the fact of the matter is that the Church is the vehicle that Jesus ordained for the transmission of His message. We can’t check out on the Church simply because we don’t like what it looks like in our day and age. If we check out on it, then we lose whatever power we may have to influence it for good.
I would agree with most of what the author of this rant is saying. But I am not about to check out on the church. Because it is in the church that I have been able to find space to be accepted by other people and involved in the work that God is doing. I don’t know if I can trust God all the time, or even most of the time, but I love what I get to be a part of in the church where I am involved so much that I can’t bring myself to walk away.
In The Brothers Karamazov, Father Zossima says, “One who does not believe in God will not believe in God’s people. He who believes in God’s people will see God’s holiness too, even though he has not believed in it till then.” I am not always sure that I can trust God, but I know that I can trust His people. It is my hope that by loving and serving the people of God, I shall one day see the face of God.