As a minister I encounter lots of people during the course of a week. Most of those people are church folks. It has been said that Christians tend to insulate themselves by living in a comfortable bubble filled with other believers.
To be completely honest, I have to work at being intentional to get out of my own comfort zone and meet people who aren’t in the church . . . people who aren’t like me . . . people who think and feel differently about news and current events . . and people who basically process life through a whole different lens.
The reality though is that there are many people who call themselves Christians but don’t appear to be any different than the rest of the world. Spiritual immaturity is one of my biggest frustrations as a discipleship pastor — and also the very reason that I’m so passionate about spiritual growth. David Platt, in his book Radical, makes a real case for how Christians in America have in many ways missed the whole point of the gospel. While believers in many other countries are being imprisoned, persecuted, and tortured because of their faith in Jesus Christ, Christians in this country often spend their time arguing about music/worship styles, debating carpet colors, and shopping around for churches that best accommodate their consumer mentality.
I know . . . because I hear these things in my Christian bubble. Often. That’s just one more reason I’m happy to look for avenues to build relationships with non-believers and unchurched people. I believe that it is an absolute sin to focus so heavily on our wants, needs, and preferences to the eternal detriment of those in our communities who are without Christ.
Listen to these words from Platt:
“I think with the way we have unprecedented material blessing, with the way we have a culture built on self, self-esteem, self-confidence. All of these things we begin to twist the gospel into something that it is not. We make it look like us and fit into our lifestyle instead of adjusting our lifestyle to the gospel. In the process we make following Jesus more American than it is biblical. As a result there seems to be a major disconnect between what it means to follow Christ in the first century and what it means to follow Christ in our definition in the 21st century America.” – Christian Post, May 15, 2010
(To read a transcript of David’s interview with the Christian Post, click here.)
Those words are as convicting to me as they are to anyone else. I admittedly have a long way to go in my journey as a disciple. Discipleship is a process; it doesn’t happen overnight. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you don’t have the luxury of deciding whether to be a Christian-in-name-only or a faithful disciple. Being a little bit Christian is just like being a little bit pregnant. You’re either with Him, or you’re without Him . . . and the margin for error is not what you want your eternal destiny to hinge upon.
The times in which we live are absolutely urgent! There are many in our own country who still have not heard the truth of Jesus Christ. As believers, we have one mission in life: to go and preach and make disciples. We are all to be ministers in our own context. May we be diligent to share the Good News — the reason for our blessed hope — while the Father’s mercy provides us the opportunity to do so.
And the next time you hear another Christian complaining about something trivial in the church, take a moment to pray for him or her — and then say a prayer for those brothers and sisters who truly understand what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ.
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” – 2 Timothy 2:3, ESV
For news and information about persecuted believers, visit Voice of the Martyrs.
IT’S YOUR TURN!
What’s on your heart today? How is God speaking in your life? What are your thoughts about Christianity in America today?