Recently my mind was drawn to a chapter in a book I read a number of years ago. Overall, the book was unremarkable, but the last chapter was worth reading and rereading.
A couple of quotes from the chapter are worth hearing.
“A honest evaluation of the dramatic number of callings that the church has created would reveal that we have found extraordinary ways of describing the overwhelming amount of Christless living in the church.”
“In the process of creating a theology that accommodates apathy, disinterest, compromise, and even rebellion, we have lost the essence of the movement for which Jesus died. We made a mistake of making heroes out of those who were simply living a normal Christian life.”
To me, this strikes hard at modern Christianity. Simply put, it seems to me that we have largely lost the mindset of early Christians that we read about in Acts. To quote an old proverb, soft times have made soft Christians. And soft Christians like to take it easy.
There’s some talk going around today about the new legalism of missional living (and a response here), accidental Pharisaism (Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith which comes highly recommended, at least if you consider my friends high).
But it’s hard for me to imagine that the early Christians would have considered our dilemmas to be anything other than, well, inane pursuits of narcissistic immaturity.
The body of Christ, for many, is not the center of our lives. It’s just another social club where we hang out each week. Or whenever, depending on soccer schedules, baseball schedules, sales flyers, holidays, TV shows, movies, the temperature outside, the relative position of the clouds to the sun, the time we managed to crawl in bed on Saturday night, whether or not the game goes into overtime.
The body of Christ is not a place of ownership, but a place of consumption. We go, get a meal (probably more like just snacking a bit), tip the waiter, err, the pastor. And head out to our real lives. You know, the things that start around noon on Sunday.
The mission of God to be disciples and make disciples at high cost to ourselves is less important than whether we ourselves are taking care of ourselves. We have created false dichotomies, saying things like “I need to care for myself right now,” or “I need to take some family time,” or “I need to take care of my marriage,” as if those are things that cannot be done inside normal New Testament commitment to the body of Christ and the mission of Christ.
There’s another old saying, “I would rather burn out than rust out.” I seriously doubt there are many in danger of either.
We seem mostly to float, aimlessly meandering through the meadow of life, deaf and blind to the warfare that it taking place on all sides.
But at least we are comfortable.