“You know what’s easier than applying sunscreen? Not going outside.” ~ Jim Gaffigan
Last week I wagged my long, bony finder and made a bold indictment upon modern, first-world Christianity.
I believe that there is an unholy alliance between Christianity and convenience, despite the way of Christ being so contrary to it. As I contemplate His brutal death upon a cross and consider taking up my own to follow Him, convenient Christianity seems more and more like an imposter.
As offensive as this may seem, I want to be absolutely clear that my words are primarily inspired by my own spiritual apathy. I have followed Christ now for approximately sixteen years, however, I am realizing that this Christ I followed has been a tamed, convenient, and even syncretized fabrication of my own making.
And this really is the heart of HOPE4Hipsters.
I have come to this place recently that I am no longer satisfied with the expression of Christianity that I have created. It was so dire that I had to decide: either this is real, and therefore, I need to examine this emptiness I am experiencing, OR this is not the worldview for me.
I was quickly convinced that this problem was mine, not God’s.
Years ago I listened to a Christian rock group called GS Megaphone (still do sometimes, mostly out of nostalgia). One of my favorite songs by GS was this blood-pumping tune “Reformation” that kicked off their second album, “Beautiful World.” The lyrics have never rung truer for me:
“For too long there’s been a cold war all within the Body of Christ. How can He move with stones in His joints? How can the left hand show contempt for the right?”
This, in short, has defined my personal Christ communique. I have been busy, bold, and blinded by my “cold wars” within the Body. And the more entrenched I became with the minutiae of our Maker the more I became immobile, impotent, indignant and downright insulting.
If you noticed a repeated letter there it was a big fat “I”! It’s an ugly reality when I become the center of my universe, even when I boast of a great love for Christ (ask the wife!).
Interestingly, a topical study that is taking off within psychology is that of narcissism. In Grecian mythology, Narcissus was a handsome youth who fell in love with his own reflection! Uh, what?! Moving along, the Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as follows:
“A mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism. Although they see themselves as the best and most-deserving, narcissists ironically can be some of the most depressed individuals around.”
Self-absorbed individuals, fixated upon their own problems, issues, needs, and wants can be some of the most miserable and difficult creatures you will ever encounter! They always take but never give. And I did this proudly in the name of Jesus and with little to no regard for those in my path.
I won’t pretend to have the answers anymore, but I have learned that a faith that does not live, breath, move, act, and whatever other verb you want to insert is deadly! James gives these sobering words,
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you same to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
For years I have justified an obsession of orthodoxy while conveniently dismissing the necessary orthopraxy.
I am sickened and ashamed.
If any of this resonates, may I encourage you to not settle for knowing about Christ but seek to know Christ! Keep the priority the priority.
Yes, study the Ordo Salutis and Greek participles, but for Heaven’s sake remember that people are dying everyday without Jesus! People don’t need to understand the Greek or Hebrew meanings of “rescue” to receive it.
Worship the God of the word, not the word of God.
If your “love” for God is actually handicapping you from living out the basic tenets of the faith, please STOP the idolatry and remove the stones within your spiritual joints. Go back to those moments in your early walk when you just couldn’t get enough of Jesus. Get “silly” once again, become undignified and embrace a faith that only children possess.
Maybe it was a book that once blew wind in your sails or a worship song that lifted you to heights you’ve long since forgotten. Maybe it’s a friend who wouldn’t let you settle in your pursuit of Christ.
May we pray as David did, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Ps. 51:12) Pursue personal and communal reformation.
In the words of GS Megaphone, “There’s a wall around who we are, I say we waste it while we still have our youth! I know we know that we simply must.”