Christianity in Crisis

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One of my friends on Facebook posted this link:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/index.html?hpt=T2

This article, posted on www.cnn.com (one of the more liberal news networks out there) basically says that most young people professing Christianity today, are not passionate or even knowledgable about what they believe.

The article is worth reading….especially by all parents and pastors.  Here are a few exerts:

“Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn’t inspire them ‘to change anything that’s broken in the world’.”

“We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake,” Corrie says.

She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews.

What can a parent do then? Get “radical,”

But it’s not enough to be radical — parents must explain “this is how Christians live,” she says.

“If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation,” wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Overall the article cites two parties responsible: Churches that teach watered down faith and parents who are not teaching or living out radical faith. 

If you grew up in church, please comment about the foundation of your faith and who inspired you…I love feedback.

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3 thoughts on “Christianity in Crisis

  1. dill01

    I grew up in a Christian household (in Scotland, not in the US) and my parents I think gave me a good grounding in the reality of faith. However, throughout my teenage years, I was utterly ambivalent about my faith and I don’t think I would have been able to be coherent – not because I didn’t believe or understand, but because I didn’t want to expose myself to ridicule – even with people who shared my faith.

    I think that changed when I started going to a different church from my parents – when I stopped being ‘God’s grandchild’ and found my own faith.

  2. Sean Alexander

    This is a very interesting article you present. For too long have the churches ignored the true message of Christ in favor of the “God wants you to succeed through his grace and all you got to do is believe” falsities that go down sweet as sugar but are as true as the words of the deceiver. Mainstream Christianity is junk Christianity. It doesn’t feed the soul and denies that anything can be done to help the world. Their message: The world is beyond help. Only through prayer and tithing can you overcome the world and become one of God’s chosen. If only that were true. Then following God would be as easy as attending youth group. Following God is easy. He’s got the whole program laid out for you in the gospels. Giving up everything society considers sacred to follow a man with nothing? That’s the hard part.

    Jesus killed a fig tree because it wouldn’t give him fruit when he wanted it. Let this be a lesson to us all. Those that produce good fruit, God will keep. Those that do not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown away.

    We have abilities within us for actions that are pleasing to the Lord. If we do not bring the good within us out to shine upon the darkness of modern times then we are no better than the cursed fig tree. God will cut us down at the root and throw us into the fire.

    Wheat is useful, chaff is not. A fig tree that produces fruit is valuable. A barren tree that gives nothing is not. In order to be valuable to the Lord we must be useful to Him. If we cannot find a God supporting role for ourselves in society than we have failed as human beings. No amount of professed belief or secret prayer is going to change the fact that we have the ability to help the world in exactly the ways outlined in the Bible and if we still do not, then it was our choice and we will be judged accordingly. Even though we all think we believe the truth, in God’s eyes it is very different. A true believer behaves a certain way. Actions speak louder than the vain lips of hypocrites.

    Unless each of us commit entirely to the Mission of Jesus. Clothing the naked. Feeding the sick. Comforting the friendless. Refusing to confront our enemies with violence and instead forgiving them, especially when we think our enemies deserve all the violence our modern military can muster. Unless we can accomplish these admittedly difficult changes, first in our own minds and then with every fiber of our being, then we can’t claim to follow and believe in Christ. Claiming to be more righteous than the righteous and having nothing to back it up is a fatal mistake.

    If all we’re doing is attending youth group on Wednesdays, Church on Sundays, family prayer meetings every other night of the week, if all we’re doing is staying chaste, thinking pure thoughts, and not overindulging in our base desires, if all we are doing is taking faith as an internal mission to be completed alone in the privacy of our own hearts or only when it’s convenient and doesn’t conflict with our jobs, then we fail at the task our Father has set for us. If we believe that all we have to do is love without showing it, without making God’s love immanent in the world around us, then we are just paying lip service to the one we supposedly live for.

    The Bible isn’t just the ten commandments. Following those alone will not get us into heaven. We must also love each other as God has loved us. Love is not a secret act. To show your love you must do love. Praying for someone is great, but Jesus did much more than just pray. Following Christ’s example, we should also do more than just pray. Jesus actually went out into the world, with no safety net to back him up, with no real job to support himself. With nothing but the Word and the Holy Spirit Jesus physically confronted the world and changed it for the glory of God. Then, sitting atop a hill with thousands of onlookers, Jesus demanded in no uncertain terms that we follow His example and do the same or face the consequences. Why can’t we do the same? We do not have to be Gods to behave in the manner of Christ.

    I hear all the time preachers saying, “It is impossible to live up to Jesus’s example but we must try”. It is not impossible. It is impossible for a rich holy man to live up to God’s example in Christ. (It has a lot to do with him being rich, which I’ll get into in a moment). True, the average preacher refuses to believe in God enough to follow his example to the letter. When Jesus said, “do this in memory of me” he meant do everything. Otherwise His memory is lost, distorted, preyed upon by the greedy. Words that were not His are put in His mouth. No longer will Christ’s presence be felt in the world if this is to be the case. Maybe that’s why I hear the pastor’s lie so often. The lies we tell ourselves to protect us from the judgment of the Lord. But you can’t really change the truth. The truth is eternal. And you can’t hide from judgment. That part is eternal too.

    I know a lot of “Christians”. I only know a few servants of the Lord. Many claim to believe, but belief requires the actions of a believer. You may claim to believe, but by your fruits will you be known. Belief without action is a lie. Belief is necessary but only true belief is recognized at the judgment. You’re deeds have been recorded. How does your TV, movie, music, phone and shopping time compare with the time you sacrificed for the Lord. And I don’t mean in vain worship either. How long did you spend helping someone who was not yourself and how does that time compare with those times you behaved selfishly in your own false interest?

    God sees through hypocrisy even if you’ve managed to delude yourself into believing that you truly do believe. Truth is, a person can’t say for certain whether they believe in something or not. We lie to ourselves to protect our psyches all the time. Only through our actions can the true state of our heart be known. God may see that we hold the truth within us, but unless we draw that truth into the light and make it our purpose in life to show that light externally, so that we may love each other as God loves us, (by what he shares with us, including his precious son. Remember: He helps both the good and the evil because nobody is either until judgment day), if we can’t live up to what we hold in our hearts than the Word is nothing more than a blank placeholder, with no true function in your life. If we refuse to bring what is inside us out, then there is nothing for us past the judgment. Only death. Forgotten forever. If God does not find our memory useful he will dispose of it. Never to be remembered again, with no chance for mercy, because nobody in heaven will know who you are. The condemned might have been your best friend, but hell will destroy them completely, even from your own memories.

    Let this be a warning to us all. Enough with fast food style Christianity. Give us something that will feed the soul not just the head. Enough with rock concerts disguised as meaningful worship. Did Jesus need to sing to convince the bored teenagers that he was cool enough to hang with? All He needed was the Truth. God wants your thanks, sure enough, but not 45 minutes of adult contemporary rock telling Him how great He is. God knows how great He is. He knows that we know how great He is. Thank our Heavenly Father, yes but then get to work. We will spread the word, not through our vain lips, but through our righteous acts. Let us make God our career and if our faith is pure and our actions consistent, He will provide everything we need.

    I know pastors that drive BMWs, live in large houses in nice gated communities, they wear expensive suits and flashy watches. They say, “I believe in God and look at what God has given me.” As if we should be jealous of their powerful faith. But let me tell you, it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. If you have more than you need you are committing a sin that will send you straight to eternal destruction. Because so many in the world lack and because there are a limited amount of resources, having more than you need means you had to take that surplus from the back of a needy person you’ve never met. Having more than enough to survive is condemning those without enough to suffering and death. God made enough for everyone so long as we can all share.

    What is lazy in society’s eyes does not match what God considers lazy. Use your talents for your master God, the only master you must have, so that when He returns He will find your talents multiplied by all those lives you touched. In return He will give you power in heaven, even the power the evil ones had on Earth who did nothing to serve the Lord, who hid their ability to do good, not wanting to do wrong and in doing so lost everything. By not trusting the Lord and wanting not to do wrong they have done the Lord wrong and wasted their life. They are unprofitable in the eyes of the Lord despite what their bank statement might say. An unprofitable tree bears little fruit.

    Having more than enough to meet your needs means that you do not trust God will provide for you into the future, which means you do not really believe in God. The one who offends God by keeping a stash of resources for his own personal use puts his trust in bank accounts and property, but not in the Lord. The birds of the field have their needs met without resorting to turning their master’s greed into their own with their labor. Are you not more important than those birds in the eyes of the Lord? Why serve two masters when the one steals your life and offers a pittance in return for your service while the other, our Lord, requests your cooperation and offers you life? Who are you going to work for?

    The hungry and infirm die from lack because so many of us take what isn’t ours, call it ours and then thank God for sacrificing innocent lives just so we can have another extra set of clothes or a new television or a nice car. As believers we cannot fall into mistaking our own narcissistic tendencies with the will of God. Despite what you may have heard, God does not want us to be rich. God does want you to be the right kind of person he needs for his future plans. The chaff can believe that it is the Lord’s wheat, but God is not fooled. He can see that it is really chaff, that its faith was just a lie it told itself and it believed. If it looks, sounds and acts like the other chaff, it is also chaff and will not be saved. A real Christian looks, sounds and behaves differently from the chaff that it finds itself in the company of. In a den of vipers how hard is it to behave like a viper yourself to avoid detection? Now how hard is it to act in a way that is sure to call attention to yourself, that is sure to get you bitten by your peers?

    There is no such thing in creation as a secret Christian. Either you have the Word on your lips and in your actions at all times or you are serving a master unrelated to Christ, a false hope that will steal your life and then steal your very soul. Living up to God’s example is almost impossible, but unless we try to take our faith seriously and trust God in every action, we are no more Christian than the professed atheist. Through God everything is possible. Did Jesus save us through words alone, or was it his actions that accounted for his greatness. Who would Jesus be if he did not choose to give everything to God with every step he took on Earth. Even when those steps led to certain death. He made no secret of his affinity with God and neither should we. We are the children of God. We are all sent here to sacrifice ourselves to save the universe. Can you give up what you want for what God wants? That courage can only come through careful study of Christ’s life and works.

    How did I become a Christian? In my former life I was a high paid advertising executive living in Denver Colorado. My wife was cheating on me. When I found out about the infidelity I lost my mind for a while. While in my crazed, self-destructive phase I noticed a book calling out to me from my bookcase. When I finally gave in to the call and saw the cover it shouldn’t shock you to know that it was the Holy Bible. I had never known religious instruction. I had no idea we even owned a Bible.

    So I sat down and I read it. Then I read it again. Then a third time. Mostly just for something to do, I had lost interest in all other activities, I certainly wasn’t looking for any solution to my problems unless that problem was simple boredom. Yet, on the third go round something clicked in my mind. Words that seemed archaic and meaningless suddenly forced themselves on my attention. I started to dream about what I had read. I heard Jesus tell me Himself in the exact words I had read earlier that day precisely what he wanted me to do. For the first time I felt I understood.

    It was hard for me to believe what was happening. I had never shown the slightest inclination towards religion and now here I was, a fanatic. I believed. I started talking about what I read with my friends. They noticed a change in my behavior and they didn’t like it. No more was I wasting my time with them discussing sports or other trivial distractions at the bar. Even my family turned me away when I started speaking of the Lord. This should have been expected but it wasn’t. I wondered if I might be on the wrong path.

    Friendless and divorced I still had my high-paying advertising career to look forward to. But then another frightening change in my attitude developed. I found my work at every turn to be contrary to the will of God. It was the same work but I saw it with new eyes. What was I really doing all this time when I thought I was earning an honest living? Keeping my false masters fat and happy, of course. I knew that God willed me to help those less fortunate in order to truly show my love for my fellow man. Instead I was earning a fat paycheck for myself and an even fatter paycheck for my boss. I was helping the already fortunate become even more fortunate.

    God rains his gifts on the just and unjust alike. Do not take financial success as an indication of God’s consent for your behavior. What is fine in polite society can be disgusting to the Lord. In society you can work for another for monetary compensation. You are even expected to. You give them a little of your life and they’ll trade you a little mammon for it. But in the Kingdom of God, you may only serve the One and woe be it to those that say both can be served equally. There is no equal to the Lord. Woe be it to those that claim to serve God when they are really engaged to mammon.

    Not fully understanding the implications of my revelation, I decided to solve my work problems by giving away the fruits of my labor to the needy. What could be better than that? I ignored the fact that I was still doing something horrible in order to get the money. Though I felt that I did believe in our Lord, the truth was I was not invested fully because I did not yet trust the Lord.

    Give away your money, solve this crisis of faith, I said to myself. So, amazingly, (crazily according to everyone I reviewed my plan with), I did just that. But was it enough? Oh no, it was not. I could still feel the guilt eating me up inside. I was still doing something wrong. I looked again at my job. Advertising is a perfectly respectable profession to involve yourself in if you don’t know the truth. The truth was and is that advertising is a tool for turning the attention of people away from God and towards their own faulty desires. I saw the message of advertising. It was clear: “You can solve all your problems if you’ve got the money for our products!”

    The shock hit me like a thunderbolt, I was working for evil this whole time. There was no other way, I quit my job, gave away my car, donated my nice clothes, started wearing thrift shop threads and began my wandering ministry, comforting the sick, sharing whatever charity I received with the poor, and always professing the intentions God has for us all. Now I feel pretty much at peace, an understatement to be sure. Everything seems easy to me now. It’s hard not to let this new found feeling go to my head. I must always remember that I am equal to the least on the Earth in the eyes of God and equal I will remain until the judgment comes and I am sorted along with everyone else. I believe that I am useful enough to be kept, only God knows the truth about my destiny. I may have visions of it, but only God can say if what I saw was true.

    I know I might be an oddball not having come to Christianity in the traditional way, (i.e. family, friends, love of ritual, wanting to be part of a group, feeling special enough to deserve to live forever, etc). I wasn’t looking for God. I was never looking for God. Turns out this whole time God was looking for me. I thank God every day for finding me. Who knows what could have happened. I may have reconciled with my ex-wife. *shudder* And though I have nothing by the standards of society, neither do I want for anything. God truly has provided everything I need, (and even some things I didn’t think I would need but then turned out to be just what the situation called for, thanks God).

    Am I blessed? Yes. Will I spread my blessing around so that we may all share equally in it? I must. The alternative is worse than can be imagined and with lots of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not my idea of fun.

    You do not need an expensive degree to understand God. The fact that some people have attained expensive degrees in order to understand God is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. You just need to do what He says and not second guess the implications of what Jesus is saying. It is easy to second guess. Real faith is the hardest attribute to obtain. Let me stress once again that no money need be spent to learn what God wants you and everyone, not excluding anyone, to do.

    There are no special cases. We must all take up the cross in order to be saved. We must all sacrifice ourselves to become what God wants us to be. We must all follow in the path Jesus blazed through the wilderness. We must never look back with fondness at our previous life lest we become frozen on the path to righteousness.

    War is never an option if you want the kingdom of God. There was a time for war and starting with Jesus that time has passed. Turn the other cheek instead. Working to benefit someone who does not need the help is never an option if you seek God’s light. Instead give your love to those that deserve it, that need it. Taking pride in your things is never an option. Nothing is yours. It belongs to the entire world to be split evenly so that everyone can have an overabundance not just the lucky few. The world is God’s. It belongs to the Lord. He told us plainly that He wants us to share his things. That’s why he put you on the Earth. Share his light with all that cross your path, don’t hide it, go to the most conspicuous place immediately and renounce your claim to God’s possessions. Believe me, you’ll be happy you did.

    And we so loved the world that God had made for us that we sacrificed our identities, our wants, our fears, our dreams of an easy life, we sacrificed everything that made us who we are, and we will do it all again, infinity, because that old self we buried at the crossroad wasn’t really who we were. God told us who we really are, to deny his will is to deny our true selves. We aren’t our salaries. We aren’t our bonuses. We aren’t the clothes we wear or the music we listen to. We aren’t this look or that. We aren’t one person around our family and another around our friends. We aren’t the ones looking to selfishly take advantage of every situation that comes along. We aren’t citizens of a particular nation. We aren’t those people that we thought we were growing up. Now we know, we are all one. Jew and Gentile. Muslim and Buddhist. We are all one. Everyone deserves our help. God deserves our devotion.

    We are all created human. Now we must act like it. We must act one with God. When you smite your enemy you smite yourself. When you steal from another you steal from yourself. When you kill, you die. God is in everyone and everything including yourself. Try and remember, try and live out this truth and maybe God will remember you.

    We must cast down our false fronts and take up Christ’s load. Take courage from Christ’s example. He suffered and died and so will we all. But if we follow him to his tomb the name we will find there will be our own, for we were one with Jesus this whole time. But if we refuse then all hope is lost. The best you can hope for is a fleeting existence trying and failing to build a happy life on the backs of others all the while chained to the one above you that pays your bills. Ruled by their ridiculous passions, the cursed will wander the Earth gobbling up as much as they can hold, women and children, the sick, it doesn’t matter, there is money to be made off anyone. Bloated and bereft of humanity they will meet the Judge. See how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven?

    What was true in my case may be true for you as well. I wasn’t born into God. I was born into a corrupt society that browbeat me into conforming with its vile values. I didn’t seek God. I sought wealth and happiness and as much of it as I could take. I didn’t go looking for God’s love. It was all around me. And then he made his presence known. Tonight you may dream my dream. You may also hear the Word of the Lord ringing in your sleeping ears. You may answer as I did, “I am here Lord. Please let me be your slave.

    Do not be afraid of what the future holds. Our future is in our hands as it is in the hand of God. Do His work and only His work and together we will never fail. Eventually things will get very bad for us. It has to be this way. But know this: Our enemies can’t kill us. They can only kill themselves.

    Amen.

    • Wow Alexander, you have much so much to say. My response is simple…

      God says to you today, “I am proud to be your Dad. I know you have what it takes to be a great man. I love you.”

      Galations 4:7 “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

      John 8:35 “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.”

      It’s time to graduate from being a slave to being a son. A son knows His Father’s heart.

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