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American Christianity

I haven’t posted for a while. With Mountain Faith Mission still dealing with the earthquake in Haiti and whatnot, my mind has been elsewhere. To keep track of those things, check out Run 4 Haiti that I keep updated with Haiti stuff.

I don’t pretend to have it all together. I’ll go ahead and tell you now, when I get mad, I say stuff I shouldn’t. There are a lot of days when I’m in a bad mood, I treat my wife like crap. And, there are certain people that make me want to punch them in the face. That’s who I am. And honestly, I hate those characteristics about myself. I don’t brag or boast about any of that, but I feel that this is a necessary element to this post in order to show you I’m not pointing fingers at people and claiming that I am holy, when I clearly have work that needs to be done.

In the past few weeks, while studying about the Church with my youth, God has really just gripped my heart at my attitude towards church and my life. I find that I fall into the same traps that the Israelites did in the Old Testament. Such as:

Malachi 3:13-15

13 “You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. 
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’

14 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ “

The Israelites were only worshiping God to see what they could get out of it. If we were honest with ourselves, we could look back at how many times we’ve attended church to “worship” God, and the number would be astounding at how many times we had vain worship. By vain, I simply mean, empty worship. It was nothing. We went through the motions. And why? Because we simply wanted to put the check mark on our list so we could say we’d been to church.

THIS IS NOT WHAT CHURCH IS!!!

Or, how about this one:

Isaiah 58:3-6

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, 
‘and you have not seen it? 
Why have we humbled ourselves, 
and you have not noticed?’ 
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please 
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, 
and in striking each other with wicked fists. 
You cannot fast as you do today 
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, 
only a day for a man to humble himself? 
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed 
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? 
Is that what you call a fast, 
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: 
to loose the chains of injustice 
and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
and break every yoke?

The Israelites again are simply making God ANGRY because they are going through motions that they think will please Him. And yet, they are leaving off so many other commands that He has given – such as loving other people!!!

We all fail when it comes to this. We’re sinful people who fail. But, the question is: What are we doing to make sure we are following God closely?

You see, I look at Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, etc. of people I know who are professing Christians, and I see so many of them living lives contrary to the Gospel, and yet they say, “God will bless me, etc.”

I’ve got friends who got pregnant and are now living, unmarried, with the fathers of their children. They live a life that I believe is clearly contradictory to the way that God has established for man and woman according to the Bible, and they flaunt it for all to see. And in the same breath, they talk about how good God is and whatnot. 

Or, my other friends who post on people’s pages – “I’ll pray for you because of this or that…” and then you glance at their pictures and see the type of lifestyle they lead is completely contrary to that of Scripture.

And I pick on these instances, because they’re EASY to see.

The problem here is that people are either Biblically ignorant, or simply picking and choosing what they want to live by. Inconsistent Christianity is not Christianity.

In America, we have struggled with this issue. We have removed the offensive parts of Scripture – namely the “Follow God with everything you have by dying to yourself” – in order to please man and make him feel better. But that’s where I struggle. The Bible clearly states the call of Christ as taking up one’s cross, an instrument of torture and death, and following Christ. It’s no longer about us and what we want, but it’s all about following Christ.

Because we have softened the call of Christ to nothing more than “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so, so now I can do whatever I want…” it has permeated the attitude of Christians to make them nothing more than social club attendees who want a gold star. And this is not following Christ.

It effects me every day. I consistently have to ask myself, “Ryan, why are you doing this? Is it for you or is it for God?” Because my flesh is so weak. I love attention. I love people to comment on the things that I do and say. I love getting bragged on. I am self-centered. And yet, if I claim that I follow Christ – I am dead and Christ lives in me.

You see, I’ve come to realize that I cannot live a life that is contrary to Scripture. When the Bible says that “x” is wrong, then I must be obedient to this way of thinking. When the Bible tells me that sex outside of marriage is wrong, I cannot say, “Well, God will forgive me…” When the Bible tells me that blessings and cursings shouldn’t come from the same mouth, I cannot say, “But I was really mad…” I am dead. I have died. I let Christ live in me. And I follow Him according to His Words that are contained within the Bible.

Why have we missed this point? Why do we find so many people in the church who live lives according to their own Gospel, and then just pull what feels comfortable out of Christ’s Words?

The call of Christ is not one that leads Christians to comfort. In my opinion, the call of Christ will always lead us to discomfort, because we are battling our flesh in order to be submissive to Christ.

How uncomfortable are you?

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  1. Jacob
    March 4, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Good thoughts man.

  2. Ronnie
    May 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    You’re right Ryan. We think Christianity is about doing our “chrstian” things, like going to church, reading the Bible and praying before meals (a short perfunctory prayer, not too long but to keep Him from cursing our food!) We live lives that testify to the fact that we see God as our servant. He’s the one that takes our requests, our orders, just like a good waiter. The whole idea of submission, of sacrifice, of dying to self, we’re not really being taught that. If we read Dietrich Bonhoffer we begin to get the idea that we’ve got it wrong.

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