July 14, 2008

Christianity Lite

I think scientists must be wasting their time trying to develop needless things, when they should really be working on a way to replace all the sugar and fat with perfectly safe substitutes. This way, I can eat whatever I want, without having to worry about things like "obesity" or "heart problems" or "sedentary living." I mean, really, what are these people doing with their time besides using multi-syllabic words and looking at stuff in microscopes?

If these scientists really wanted to do me a favor, they'd team up with theologians and pastors and develop a pill I could take that would endow me with all the biblical and theological knowledge I'd ever need. Then I would know everything about the Bible (contents, history, etc.) without having to worry about things like "reading my Bible" or "studying" or "making an effort." I mean, really, who wants to do that?

I finished reading The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne last week. It's been a long time since a book has given me so many things to think about. Near the beginning of chapter eight he tells about a member of a youth group he used to lead who was caught with acid at school only a few weeks after "giving his life to Christ." When Claiborne asked him why he did it, the young man said it was because he was bored. Claiborne goes on to write "I am convinced that if we lose kids to the culture of drugs and materialism, of violence and war, it's because we don't dare them, not beacuse we don't entertain them. It's because we make the gospel too easy, not because we make it too difficult. Kids want to do something heroic with their lives, which is why they play video games and join the army. But what are they to do with a church that teaches them to tiptoe through life so they can arrive safely at death?"

I'm convicted every time I compare the knowledge I have of my own faith and the knowledge that followers of prominent religions are expected to have. Or when I read something by Christopher Hitchens or another well-known atheist and they cite the fact that most of the Christians they talk to know less about their religion than they (the atheist) knows. I've heard pastors explain how young Jews would memorize the first five books of the Bible and if they were deemed worthy, they'd go on to memorize their entire Bible to become a rabbi.

Christians have gotten caught in this web where they believe they must make their faith easy in order for others to want it. We have to make being a Christian hip or trendy or simple in order for people to "try it." We don't want them to know how easy it is to be discouraged when we feel like God is far away. We don't want them to know that the Bible is hard to understand most of the time and there are parts we'll never understand. We give them the soft, cotton candy version of Christianity to get them started and once they've accepted Christ, we peace out and wish them the best. Another name in the Book of Life and another notch on our belt.

This is not to say we should paint a horrible picture of our faith and scare them away. Goodness, no. Because even at our worst times, Christianity is better than any alternative. Even when we feel alone, we aren't. We have the author and perfector of life with us at all times. But it's not easy and He never said it would be. But it's good--oh is it good.

I guess all of this is to say that I need to get over my complacency and laziness. I wasn't lying when I wrote that I wish I could take a pill and know everything about the Bible and Christianity. But even though it's a long and complicated book, nothing but good comes from reading God's Word. And to borrow a cliche, nothing worth having is ever easy.

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