Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Religion: Still Missing The Point...

Attention: The following post has only one or two funny parts.

Sometimes I wonder why Christianity has such a bad name in today's society. I mean, there are only so many times that I can handle being called Lydia. Wait no, that's not the kind of "bad name" I meant... Sure, you can read verses like Matthew 5:11-12, where Jesus says: "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." You can say: "Jesus himself said that following Him will lead to persecution!" And certainly it will. But many people seem to follow that thought with: "So no matter what I do, if someone says I'm wrong, I'm being persecuted for Jesus! PRAISE THE LORD!" Bzzt. Sorry, wrong answer.

A mere four verses later Jesus also says: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Where is the glorifying of the Father in our time? Is it in a weekly gathering? Is it in church-sponsored "Easter Egg" hunts, where we celebrate Jesus' ressurection by giving away ressurection candy in little plastic ressurection eggs? Is it in the lives of those who claim His name? Is it in church-sponsored "Harvest" parties (that conveniently fall on October 31st and involve giving away lots of candy)? Is it in "family safe" radio and television programs?

Why is the Church considered by many in today's society to be at best little more than a social club, or at worst a bunch of superstitious extremists? Is it because everyone who calls themselves Christian is doing exactly what Jesus advised, and we're all being persecuted for it, or is it because some (if not many) of us are royally screwing up His instructions and deserve the derision? Maybe it's because of churches like these:
"Jesus cares more about your SIN and BURNING IN HELL than gas prices."Auburn, CA — As the community celebrated the opening of a new church in Auburn Sunday, another church protested the services because of objections to the congregation's "merchandising" and "business-like" strategies.

At issue was the New Life Christian Church's gas subsidizing event last weekend in Auburn. The church paid for more than 200 people to purchase gas at a discounted rate of $1.99 per gallon.

New Life Senior Pastor Bill Jenkins said recently the event was designed to show that God is interested in things that affect people's lives, such as gas prices.

Members welcomed many newcomers to the church's first services at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday at the Canyon View Community Center. Jenkins describes the church as having a "coffee house" style.

But members from the Church of the Divide in Garden Valley greeted churchgoers with another message outside, with signs proclaiming, "Jesus cares more about your sin and burning in hell than gas prices."
Wow. It definitely sounds like both those congregations have really got quite a good grasp on the true meaning of the Gospel. (Hint: sarcasm.) On the one hand, you've got the social-club style church, making a blatant attempt to lure people into the Gospel with earthly goods. Then out there on the street protesting them is the sign-waving, in-your-face, "Repent or PERISH!" group. What a disgraceful display.

In a way, they each have valid points, and yet are still each completely missing the point. As Pastor Bill "Cheap Gas" Jenkins stated, God is indeed "interested in things that affect people's lives." However, what He is not interested in is using those things as a sort of "bait" to hook new converts. In fact, Jesus did just the opposite when He turned away the rich young ruler on account of the man putting too high a value on his possessions. God's goodness and mercy don't need to be "sold." His Good News speaks for itself, if only we would let it.

Of course, the protestors certainly aren't doing God's message much justice, either. Seriously, protesting another church's service? That's like if a child is reaching for a hot stove, and in order to demonstrate to him how dangerous it is you push and hold his palm directly on it for a few seconds. Sure, it gets across the point, but leaves out the most important part of the picture: love.

God isn't awesome because he wants to help us have easy lives, and He doesn't want to scare us into His arms. He loves us, and simply asks for our love in return. Maybe these churches are reading a different set of Gospels than I am.

Source: Auburn Journal
Categories: Religion, Serious

3 Comments:

Blogger J. Lamb said...

Interesting observations. You might enjoy the site beliefnet.com There are many different articles an many different faiths including classical and neo-christianity. As for me, religiously I'm a Methodist christian, but philosophically I'm a Texas Buddhist. Have a great life.

7:32 PM, November 16, 2005  
Blogger Nathan said...

As much as I enjoy your silly posts, Skor, I love it when you drop the pretenses and post things like this.

I wish I had more time to respond right now; this topic deserves so much more than I can give it today.

The Church is a society that provides mutual support and edification, but it is not a social club. It is important that people become aware of their sin so that they recognize their need for forgiveness, but we should not point the finger of condemnation.

Churches that forget these things and go to silly extremes in their zeal sadden me.

10:21 AM, November 17, 2005  
Anonymous Elyse said...

I can't believe what some people will do.

Non-Christians have a skewed view as to what Christianity really is. Due to stupidity on some Christian's parts. For instance, my sister, she has so turned her back on God and everything that my family stands for, it's difficult for me to find things to talk to her about.

She doesn't understand that we are living in freedom. If I had never become a Christian I wouldn't have known the true freedom and love that is being a Christian.

I don't know if that made any sense, but I really appreciated your post.

3:09 PM, November 20, 2005  

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