We have an uncanny ability to use pious and theological reasoning to explain away our responsibility to do the things that we don’t want to do, all the while cloaking our sinful inhibition in a facade of Christian maturity and conscientiousness.
Søren Kierkegaard: “The bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.”
That, or we find sophisticated ways of interpretating ourselves out of the Bible’s demands. As Søren says later, this is “the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.”
He continues, “Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?’”
In other words, if your Christianity doesn’t make you uncomfortable or require much sacrifice, your Christianity is probably not that of Christ himself. It is probably not that of the Bible.
We have fashioned a God in our own image, rather than us resembling his.
I … say Amen to relationships…. [But] I must admit I’m growing skeptical of the only — organic — witness. … I wonder how much we actually get to the Good News. … People are not saved by relationships but by the Gospel. So it’d be fair to ask- have I shared the Gospel…? Proclamation and relationship can’t be separated but relationships can’t [be allowed to] lull us to sleep making us think we’re evangelists without ever sharing the good news.
~ David Michael Doran Jr., church-planting pastor at Resurrection Church (Lincoln Park, MI)
It is clear you don’t like my way of doing evangelism. You raise some good points. Frankly, I sometimes do not like my way of doing evangelism. But I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.
~ D.L. Moody (said to one of his critics)
The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers [Luke 14:25-30] — the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity.’ In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience.
~ John Stott (Basic Christianity)
If our Christianity does not make us uncomfortable, if it does not disrupt or disturb us, if it leaves us where we are, then I’m afraid our Christianity is not Christ’s Christianity. We’ve fashioned a Jesus after our own image. And any Jesus, other than the Biblical Jesus, is not the saving Jesus.
“Take up your cross,” he said, i.e., “Following me means dying to yourself.”
I composed the following as a devotional for some of my Christian coworkers at work.
For those of us who are Protestant, we will likely be celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this coming fall.
In light of that, as we think of our Christian calling in relation to our work, it’s more than fitting to recount the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Christian historical philosopher Alister McGrath explains in the following:
“From the outset, Protestantism rejected the critical medieval distinction between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ orders. While this position can easily be interpreted as a claim for the desacralization of the sacred, it can equally well be understood as a claim for the sacralization of the secular. As early as 1520, Luther had laid the fundamental conceptual foundations for created sacred space within the secular. His doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ asserted that there is no genuine difference of status between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ order. All Christians are called to be priests – and can exercise that calling within the everyday world. The idea of ‘calling’ was fundamentally redefined: no longer was it about being called to serve God by leaving the world; it was now about serving God in the world.”
The spearhead of recovering this Biblical theology was Protestant reformer Martin Luther:
The church is not an institutional network of services and programs. The church is a people, a community of which to be a member, a family.
The help and support it offers is not like that of a drive-through: come and get your “fix” when you decide you need it. The sort of help and support it offers is one that is found through committed relationships and the regular, consistent, habitual, mundane (yet exciting), ordinary (yet supernatural) means of grace — God’s people prayerfully applying God’s word to one another.
We live in an instant gratification and give-it-to-me-now sort of culture. But we should know better here. Life’s not as simple as that. Our brokenness is more entrenched and complex than that.