If you aren’t a Christian, is it because Christianity seems irrelevant based on the lives of the Christians you know?
I read an interesting blog post today from a fellow believer who is ready to pull the plug on his social networking connections and get back to real fellowship and assembly with others, because all these electronic relationships aren’t what God had in mind. A comment on a friend’s Facebook page shouted to the world at large that he–a devout Christian–is ready to kick the A**** of those promoting the homosexual agenda. A note on a critique I received gently reminded me that CBA guidelines discourage my fictional characters from participating in certain questionable activities, or from using words like “heck” and “darn” and “shucks.”
Unfortunately, these kinds of behaviors, ideas, and conventions have made much of Christianity irrelevant — not applicable, inconsistent, unrelated — to the lost souls we encounter (and ignore) every day.
When Christian pioneers began to interact with the Native Americans, it was natural for them to want to share their belief in the Savior. But instead of hearing the good news, most of the Native Americans heard a lot about the white man’s religion. They heard about how they were supposed to dress, how they were supposed to eat, what to do with their free time, what kind of music and art they could create, and so forth. Needless to say, the religious message wasn’t very well received.
There was a small religious sect called the Shakers who lived in the United States several hundred years ago. One of the tenets of their doctrine was that all sexual relations were base and somehow evil. Their sect died out pretty quickly. For some strange reason, no one wanted to join up! Their faith in God was genuine, but their application of faith was irrelevant to the people around them.
Our culture today is changing dramatically, some think for the better, others think it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. Atheism and agnosticism are reportedly increasing faster than ever before. While Christian leaders take public nosedives, Christian activists and lobbyists battle liberals for the return of conservative family values. Political lines are drawn between pro-life and pro-choice, left-wing and right-wing, Christian and non-Christian.
Christians demonize other Christians for infractions of the “rules” as they interpret them. And then they demonize whole groups of sinners for doing what comes naturally to sinners: sinning. Oh, oops, did we forget John 3:16? For God so LOVED the world? Whom did He love?
Meanwhile, believers “witness” to their unsaved friends and family members and churches plan community “outreaches.” And no one understands why so many would rather wander lost and alone in this miserable world than come to the arms of a loving Savior.
Well, duh. We’ve made Him irrelevant to a dying generation, like taking an aspirin for a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
I want my faith in Christ to be relevant–practical, applicable, effective–in my own life, and in the lives of those I love. I want to represent my Jesus to others in such a way they can see His love and goodness and want to welcome Him into their lives as well. I think I’m going to have to push the “offering envelope” to accomplish that. I’m going to have to stretch my faith out of its cozy, safe Christian corner and apply it out there in the big nasty world where people use cuss words and flaunt their sexuality and refuse to make time (or get dressed up for) Sunday morning worship service and Wednesday evening prayer.
Would Jesus have a Facebook page? Probably. Do you think he would text message his disciples? Can you imagine what His “tweets” on Twitter might say?
I know, this is probably going to make folks cranky. And I know we walk a fine line between being in the world and yet not of the world. But if we don’t figure out how to balance on that tightrope–being relevant without being irreverent–we risk losing the most precious commodity on the planet for all eternity: souls.