I am going to go on a journey. A journey to find out what is so wrong with my generation and their relationship with the church. It has really been on my heart lately. I am troubled that the kids I walked through Sunday School, Youth Group, Wednesday night programs, and VBS while growing up have almost all pushed their relationship aside with Christ and with me. And while I thought maybe this was something that just happened to me, I have discovered that it is becoming a trend nationwide with all denominations. So this is my quest of understanding. My quest to learn how I can make a difference. A quest that I can use to benefit myself with my studies in youth ministry. A quest to bring hope and young life back to the church.
I will start by reading the book unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons with research from the Barna Group. Stay tuned.
This stuff really gets me fired up. I am just warning you. I wouldn’t call it anger but this is definitely something I am passionate about. I don’t understand why ‘Christians’ have become so unChristian. Through reading unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons I am finally starting to feel like I have some answers to give my peers. Everyone I talk to is so caught up in the hypocrisy of the church/Christians and ‘Christians’ have lost their focus. Therefore making it super easy for my generation to say, “Well, I want to do something with my life that is meaningful and I am not going to find it with these people, they don’t practice what they preach and then act like they are all “OK” when they really are not. I want no part in that.” Frankly, I don’t want a part in that either.
What happened to being transparent? I think that if we really want to tell the world the good news of Jesus we just need to be honest. We need to be honest and share and scream it to the world that we aren’t perfect either. I sin. There I said it. I sin everyday almost, sometimes more than once. Sometimes a lot! And on purpose, I know I am doing it when I am doing it! I ask God for help but sometimes I just want to do it all on my own. Sometimes I probably sin even more than “outsiders of the faith”. These are my struggles and it’s an everyday battle. If we could just be transparent to the world and let them know that we except them baggage and all, what kind of revolution would that be? What about even telling them bring their baggage because we already have so much it’s not going to matter if we add more? Why can’t we just be honest that we are screw ups too?
Another great thing that hit me in this book is realizing who Jesus hung out with on earth. Guess what? He hung out with the “outsiders” because they were real with him. The religious leaders just tried to trick him into sinning or making a mistake. They did not even realize who he was. I feel like not much has changed as far as the religious leaders go in our country. Now, I am not saying that they are all bad because there are some really great ones. But clearly they have lost the focus, most of them anyways. When Jesus came he said the most important commandment is to love. To love everyone no matter what. We wonder why “outsiders” don’t want a part in our faith? Well we don’t love everyone the way we should.
A primal example is the homosexual community. Many “Christians” condemn them to hell. But guess what? We are all condemned to hell because of our sin. And guess what? I sin everyday. The only way to heaven is through Jesus and confession to that sin. It takes time, it takes time to build that relationship with Jesus and eventually we get better at controlling our sin. But just because I sin does not mean I am condemned to hell. Just because homosexuals sin does not mean they are condemned to hell, through Jesus they can be saved just like you and me. But instead we act in very unChristian ways and don’t even love them. A lot of Christians won’t even help organizations trying to fight HIV/AIDS because of homosexuality but that’s like not helping diabetes organizations because of obesity, obesity is a sin too. No sin is any worse than any other. We need to stop gauging how strong our faith is by how much sin we commit. We should start gauging it by how much we love and accept and live like Jesus did, then maybe the truth of Jesus might be a little more appealing. We aren’t living lives that people admire, as far as they can tell we are just like everyone else with a lot of opinions and rules and regulations.
This is where I am in the journey right now. I don’t understand how I survived. What I mean is, of all the kids that I grew up with in church I still have a strong faith and haven’t left the church, sure I’ve thought about it and wandered away too. But maybe I am just different, maybe God created me this way, my mom has always said I’ve got too big a heart. But I want to know what I can do to help. I want to know what I can do to make a difference in the life of my peers and of the kids that I have a chance to set on fire for the Lord through youth ministry. I don’t want to mess it up for them. I pray for my peers because they are really missing out, my life has never been more rich than it is because of the Lord. I pray that I can be used by God through sharing this and that others eyes will be opened. “Christians” eyes and even “outsiders” eyes. “Christians” need to realize how we are making it so hard for the “outsiders” to believe. And “outsiders” need to realize that we really aren’t perfect people and that we want to accept them even if sometimes we don’t act like it and that we aren’t there to just convert them, we are there because we truly care. We will except your beliefs and you can choose to accept ours if you want. Humans do not = perfection. Period. Christian or not. We need to stop being unChristian and start being more Christian.
Isaiah 58 (Also a post on my homepage)
“Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back – a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right living people – law abiding, God honoring. They ask me, “What’s the right thing to do?” and love having me on their side. But they also complain, “Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?” “Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?”
Well here’s why:
The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground. Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show no humility? To put on pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?
This is the kind of fast day I am after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of explotation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor to your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, “Here I am.”
If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest places – firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.” Isaiah 58:1-12
What if Isaiah 58 pegs our condition of Christians in American these days? What if we are living our lives for ourselves, even while we are going through the motions of religion? What if we are seeking comfort for ourselves without giving comfort to others?
We need to rebuild our lives and restore our nation, we have to recover love and concern for others.
I have completed the book unChristian and I am totally convicted. This is my heart desire. This is my call.
The next book on my journey is You Lost Me by David Kinnaman. This book is about why young Christians are leaving the church and rethinking faith. Stay tuned…