Throughout my life, I have often looked around at the congregations of Christians around me. Most often I stare for a while, sometimes in shock or awe, sometimes in compassion. I listen to the beliefs of Christians and try to square these up with the person of Jesus Christ. Often these beliefs can find some support somewhere in the scriptures, but overwhelmingly find little support in the character of Jesus while on Earth. So many Christians have embraced an individualist form of Christianity– what I and others often refer to as consumerist Christianity. When you hear it and see it, it doesn’t seem that harmful, although it seems to lack depth and long-term transformative power. It even sounds good and makes people feel much better for short bursts. Here is this “Christianity” in a nut-shell (Disclaimer: this requires some over-simplification):
I am a sinner in need of God– I have moral failings such as not being truthful to by friends or spouse, being full of hate towards a fellow collegue, and not spending enough time with my kids. Thankfully, God sent his son Jesus to cleanse me from my guilt and save me from these moral failures. He has given me grace to be able to learn to be honest and love my boss at work and spend time with my kids. I feel so grateful that God cares about little-ol’-me and wants to help me succeed in being a good citizen and model soccer mom/dad. Jesus started the church and told us that we should join ourselves to a group of individual followers.
So, I take my family to a really nice church with fantastic programs. The worship program is such a great performance and they sing songs that take my burdens and stress from the previous week away. My kids are able to go to really fun programs that teach them that they are special in God’s eyes and that they can grow up and do anything they put their minds to.
Two weekends each year, we go to the local homeless shelter and serve meals and give Christmas presents to the homeless– may God save them! And the pastor does such a great job teaching us about real life… last week he taught us principles from the bible about getting out of debt and this week he is teaching us how we can feel more accepted by God in the midst of our stressful, frenzied lives. As well, last month I took a class at the church on dieting and this month I am doing a yoga class. However, I do wish the church offered better parking service.
Brian McLaren is right… everything must change! The robustness of the gospel is being lost, deflated, it is shrinking…. evangelicals have traded in the gospel of Jesus Christ for a gnostic gospel– one about knowledge and self rather than God’s dream of reconciling all creation to himself.