Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If you build it they will come (my sad little world!!!)

I responded to a twitter message that was retweeted by someone I follow.  The message went something like... 80 percent of non churched people said they would go to a Christmas service if invited so get out there and invite someone.

My response was something along the lines of "why? so we can inoculate them with a small dose of consumer Christianity that keeps them from catching  a real cross following discipleship?"  Which I know is a bit harsh, but I am a bit harsh sometimes.

A brief conversation followed which ended in a statement that basically said, "I am not going to let you drag me into your sad little world"

Now, first of all I understand the issue.  I seem like a scrooge.  I seem like someone that hates the church.  I seem like someone who is taking pot shots at those doing something different, or arguably more successful than what I am.  I can see that, really I can.  But... I do not think I should be dismissed so easily.

 Not that I am in any way comparing myself to any of these great men of the faith, but John the baptist wasn't exactly a sweet heart, Paul was down right mean sometimes, even Jesus whom we follow was a killjoy on occasions.  The entire tradition of the prophets is not to say nice things, but to actually be a big downer.  So the question isn't: is what I am saying negative?, but rather: is what I am saying true?

Christianity as it has become defined in the western world, is subverted.  It is not the revolutionary, radical and sacrificial way of living that we see in the book of acts and in stories of the early church.  It has become rather a culture of its own, that mimics the culture of its day.  And unfortunately in most of the western world that means an adoption of consumerism.  We make a product of Christianity.  This product includes well put together services, with good music, good message, and good child care.  The product includes a very well put together handbook of beliefs, that we can convince ourselves of, and then be suitable for heaven.  This product in too many cases gives us an ideology that says our possessions are a sign of God's blessing, that our Christian duty is to take care of ourselves and our family first and then if we have some extra to give it through an agency to those that might need some help.

I remember one time I was sitting in a service that was all about God's plan for sexuality.  It had drama, and video, and a nice compelling message.  And then the band came out and was playing "in your eyes" by Peter Gabriel, and I leaned over to ask my friend that invited me a question about the service.  A lady in front of us angrily told me I was being a distraction.  A distraction from what?  A song you hear a hundred times a week on the radio?  I was distracting from a performance that was meant to be a consumable good, for a target market.  I was distracting from church, but not from being the church, but from the product of church.  Inviting people to purchase this product is not mission, though it is what we are asked to do by the organization that exists.

Jesus on the other hand calls us to go out into the world, not call people to us.  He says to make disciples, not converts.  And he says to teach them to obey everything he taught... which means, sell all you have and give it to the poor, store not up treasures for yourself on earth, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the imprisoned and sick, stand up non violently against oppression, love your enemies don't bomb them, live out the kingdom of heaven.  Yes, Jesus calls us to something all together different than a service on Christmas.

We don't need to invite people to a service, we need to invite them to a revolution.  But first we have to live it ourselves.  Far from being a sad little world, it becomes a wonderful, joy filled, and also tragic world, bigger than can be imagined, as it is not bound by the physical.

come and join the revolution

rev

19 comments:

PhyshBourne said...

i suppose it would be a good idea to start inviting people to your home before starting a revolution… :)

john jensen said...

True very true

Rev

Anonymous said...

Hey Bro, well written. It is a sad state that we can't see to plant the church where the church is not. You and I have seen a whole lot of migration going on. But will our brothers be honest about truly new growth? Most likely not, crunching numbers, new beginings classes, baptisms. But is that truly cultivating a believer to become a reproducing discipler of others? Good post, sad state of affairs world wide, and yet people are still finding Jesus because of him. We need to be able to take the medicine we weld around to others like a sword.
I miss you
Thomas

Meredith Gould said...

Love this post. I could barely tolerate sitting through Christmas liturgy this year. Getting back to basics --> God!

Neal Taylor said...

Great post John! You are a "voice from the edge" - thanks for reminding us!

Anonymous said...

Someone calls you a "voice from the edge" yet you "still drink too much coffee...like art museums, red wine, dancing and quiche" (from your profile). Sounds like you're just a cranky version of the middle class church you rightly critique?

Len Hjalmarson said...

Hey A-Nony-Mous, Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and seemed to like to hang out at parties. So why should that be an issue with his followers? Is JOY a problem, or is withdrawal from real life in the name of an artificial ascetical holiness the problem?

Len Hjalmarson said...

And btw Rev, I wrote a similar post for my blog critiquing the childrens program at the church I pastor (the gospel becomes humor and satire) and a couple of friends who loved it also told me that "timing is everything" and I should wait until our next year program is in the offing before raising the subject. Sigh.

Bob Cleveland said...

The simplest part of this whole deal that sticks out at me is that the pollsters gladly take the word of folks that they'll go to church if somebody asks them. I find that ludicrous, wholly apart from the question of what they might find when they got there.

john jensen said...

Anonymous pardon me for liking red wine, like Jesus apparently did. Or parties... like Jesus apparently did. Or for drinking too much coffee like every other construction worker (like Jesus was) I know does. Or for liking art, for free, which I am guessing Jesus would have approved of as well.

If it makes you feel better I have lived under the poverty level income wise for 17 of the last 22 years, have taken in homeless teens and unwed mothers, and never started a church where my salary was part of the budget.

but thanks for keeping me honest

rev

REVOLTING CO2 TAX said...

That is why we stopped going to the show altogether, religion is worthless, salvation is priceless.

Trevor D. Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trevor D. Davis said...

Well written bro - there will always be the mockers who justify who and what they are and do to separate themselves from ‘convicting’ truth (it is called deflecting) - however it is TIME for some Holy Ghost convicting preaching - that’s what will convert and reform people - heart change, being born again separated from sin and the world but active in the world to rescue all those who will accept Jesus Christ - pretty basic stuff - but too simple for the Theologian?? Bless - go for revival not performance Trevor D (www.ourfathershouse.org.au)

www.kathypride.com said...

read the post linked through my blog feed. Love it and agree with it. As soon as I get my blog reinstated,deleted it unintentionally...will be talking about much of the same.

FRO said...

so what i'm hearing is this:
"instead of taking 5 minutes from our consumer-driven lifestyles to invite a friend to a possibly life-altering presentation of the gospel, we should change our consumer-driven lifestyles into Christ-like servanthood lifestyles."

here's my question:
if we already pursue Christ-like servanthood lifestyles, can we take 5 minutes to invite a friend to a possibly life-altering presentation of the gospel?

john jensen said...

Sure or you can invite them to dinner or to sOmething where your kingdom centered life is on view. Studies show that people tend to be stuck in what they first come to. In other words if people experience faith as a service on Sunday it usually means they will continue to view faith as such

Rev

Maria said...

What a relieve I like red wine too....and coffee and all the good things in life :) And dear Br. Jensen, I totally agree with yr post..... Let us keep focussed on what it is really all about. A big hug from the Netherlands to all my brothers and sisters.

ehyde said...

Well done. I think you speak for a large majority of western Christians who have experienced much of the same. I abandoned American Evangelicalism about a year ago. Christianity has never been more alive for me than it is now.

Keep up the good work. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Acts 16:29-31. Then the jailer called for a light, ran in and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Come to our church on Sunday morning and you will find out." I think not.