I started to respond to comments on my last post and then found my response to be very long… so here is part 2 of the post:
I don’t think the previous post is too extreme of a picture. The lives of the majority of Christians in America are identical to that of non-Christians… survey after survey conducted shows this to be true. Sociologically, one must look at the relationship of beliefs and actions. Thus, I would conclude that the true gospel of Jesus must be missing in these individuals and communities– and that “another gospel” is being preached– one that continues to prop up the overall behavior and values that exist in the congregations. Jesus’ gospel turned the Roman Empire upside down within 3 centuries– it gave hope to those who previously had none and offended those who were currently benefiting from the Empire/Idolatrous System (religious leaders, rulers, rich land owners, etc.).
I have encountered so many Christians over my life who believe in cheap grace (it’s not a big deal when I sin because, hey, God forgives), who believe that God wants them to be slightly better versions of themselves, and who hold the same values of popular culture (i.e. the values being advertised everyday in the media, by our politicians, and in our corporations).
God wants a thorough transformation. This transformation can take a long time– I get that! Nevertheless, one only needs to peak through the window for a short time to see that the typical American Christian doesn’t even have an imagination for such a transformation. Instead, they have an imagination for “improvements” rather than radical change.
Radical transformation should challenge our definitions of family (who is my mother, brother, sister, father, etc.); radical transformation should challenge our definitions of friend and neighbor (we tend to gravitate to people like ourselves, we separate ourselves from most people who are “different” or “other”); radical transformation should challenge our ideas of enemy, nation, vocation, and self. Thus it should affect our politic, our ethic, our economic, etc. It should affect our ideas of citizen, immigrant, violence, peace, power, and so much more. One of the most effective ways for such an imagination to get into the hearts of Christians is through the pulpits. It must be in the pastors’ transformed imaginations. We need such apostles and prophets today.