Monday, November 30, 2009

Holier than Thou

: (I hate having to do these at the beginning of my writings about religion, but some of you all forget about free speech -of which my blog is one example- and go bananas. Others of you are way too religious. Relax). This entry is not intended to be negative. It is not intended to guilt, but rather to convict you so that you will press yourself for an honest assessment of your faith-if you do profess the Christian faith. It is also intended to aid you in your approach to evangelism. If you are not of the Christian faith, none of this applies to you (yet), and I am not at all moved by you being offended. Thanks.

Search the bible, and you’ll find numerous examples of people who were persecuted because of their faith. You’ll also, luckily, find answers as to how to deal with it. But maybe, just maybe (this is a pretty revolutionary idea-you may want to brace yourself) it’s not others for whom our Christianity is a problem, it’s US. No really, US. I know, that idea that we can be an impediment to the faith that we profess doesn’t make sense. Well, a lot of things in the world don’t, so there.

It seems, at least sometimes, that we are more perturbed by how to carry our faith in a natural, approachable way that people are to receive/ acknowledge it. It’s a shame, really, because Jesus, when he walked the earth, might have been more relatable than his followers are today. I mean, people actually came up to Jesus. (You’ll recall the blind man by the roadside and the woman whose only desire was to touch the hem of his garment). So why are people running away from us? Because instead of allowing our faith to enhance relationships and thereby the quality of our lives, it turns into a blockade against authenticity. Dating seems more difficult. Choosing friends seems impossible because you’ve gotta choose between your super spiritual friends and everyone else- and God for bid you mix the two! What do you say, where do you go to hang out?!?! When it comes to your individual walk with Christ, can you have a bad day? Will people miss the gospel if I don’t speak to everyone?? It’s a sort of paralysis by analysis, but I have, at various points in life, been plagued by this legalistic type of thinking, making my Christian walk look like a Trail of Tears, explaining why it’s the road less traveled. As my pastor explained, legalism has never changed anyone’s life. While the Christian faith is largely about looking from the inside out, we have to begin considering how our walk looks to others, particularly those we seek to recruit into the kingdom. Are we down to earth, relevant Christians? Or are we so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good?

I recently had a conversation my friend Rebecca about this very thing. She said that sometimes she felt the pressure, as a Christian, to be “relevant.” By relevant she meant a Christian who is in touch with culture, knows popular, secular songs, etc. It tugged on her heart to an extent because she felt that she didn’t want to be labeled as “holier than thou” but her convictions are her convictions. She wondered how necessary it was to be “relevant” and how much that compromises Christianity. I can’t say I really have the answer to that. Do you?

You see, for unbelievers, choosing a view of religion can be like window shopping. That’s mainly because many people believe that being spiritual ambiguous makes them seem more open minded, interesting, and intellectual, guaranteeing them a spot in the after life of socially acceptable people (I wonder who’s working that gate-Paris Hilton?). So they spend their youth, teens and sometimes middle age dibbling and dabbling in all kinds of new age beliefs. But why? I figure it’s a toss up between political correctness and the prevailing sentiment that Christians are hypocrites, people bound by religious laws, unable to live normal lives. In the business of religious window shopping, people want to choose what “looks best” Unfortunately, the struggles that Christians face are like the mannequins in a boutique-tired, lame, legalistic mannequins. No one even wants to take the free gift. We may need to change our marketing strategy. We must challenge ourselves to be mature enough so that our desire and commission to share the gospel is accompanied by a lifestyle that someone would want to embrace. I’d venture to say that this is one reason why more Christians don’t evangelize. Just a thought…

Thankfully, this complex question is not one for which there is no remedy. God did not intend for us to spend our time being conflicted-plagued with social anxiety and legalism. Nor did he intend for us to abandon the Christian walk for a more comfortable pair of shoes. We ourselves, as well as the people that we encounter must recognize that Christianity is a religion, followed by imperfect people, after a perfect God, that is the essence of holiness. In this pursuit, we are to live fully and richly, that our faith may be inviting and inspiring. After all WWJD?

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