God is not the author of confusion.
My argument in this post is this — when the American church acts Christian, lost Americans would know and want to go to the church in time of need.
Adventure is out there, but it needs to be found in the American church, so Christians would know and want to go to church in time before there is a need.
Today, we live a safe, comfortable, air conditioned, cushioned, reserved parking, quiet, predictable calculated cozy Christianity here. It’s not exactly all our fault, but it’s a place where you can keep the ladies busy in nursery and soup kitchens, and keep the kids enthralled with pizza parties and puppet shows, and the men quietly tag along more out of duty.
And the men half attend if at all, the teens attend until they are allowed to flea, but it’s rare that either of these groups have hearts burning inside for whatever is going on in the church today. I don’t think it’s the fact the church can’t out entertain Hollywood or the NFL — what my belief is that the NFL and Hollywood and Marvel Avengers and Jurassic Park’s genetically engineered man eating dinosaurs and our favorite fantasy video games better capture our desire and need for challenge and adventure more than the church.
We endure church, but we long for the mountains, the sea, and some swash-buckling root-toot-tooting adventures. And how church was back in the book of Acts and how church was back during the Great Awakening.
American church members – especially the men – are bored. And who is promoted and pushed and exalted are the safe, happy, smiley mild mannered men who share small sermons behind the pulpit. Sometimes you get some who had adventures themselves, and they tell tales and it stirs the heart a bit. Sometimes a missionary shows slides or a presentation of an overseas adventure and it tugs at the heart strings and invites us to adventure. But those who are on fire for Jesus and willing to march to his drum, willing to follow Jesus and live a radical life are not marched before the congregation as examples to follow – they are treated like rebels and outcasts. Jesus is knocking outside the average American church waiting to be let in, and His close followers are not really welcomed either. Just like in Joseph’s day – he had visions and dreams that were not what his brother experienced. They couldn’t handle it, so instead of embracing the message, they went and wanted to shoot the messenger.
If a chain of restaurants were going under, you could do one of two things. You could yell at the customers for not eating there. Or you could address the management and realize things needed to change. In American church, there needs to be a change. The real men of God are starving a lot of the time and longing for real fellowship and real discipleship, and the leaders cater to the masses. The majority are never spiritual, but they cater to the majority because that is who pays the bills. And shoot the messenger saying, “But what about JESUS?”
If you are a man and have fire in your bones and want to eat locusts and wild honey when they are asking what you want on your pizza, you likely will be not only misunderstood, but the church will pack up and move in the middle of the night and not notify you of the change of address. But they will call you back if they get a cricket problem. The closest I found to that adventure in America was when I found a group of street preachers. They had bad attitudes perhaps, bad breath maybe, bad pulpit manner, and bad mouthed the heathen and no one was saved inside church or out but you know what – it felt like adventure. It felt exciting. It was the time of my Christianity where I truly felt I was getting a taste of real Christianity. And then when I returned to the churches, I’d feel rejection and I didn’t fit in, and time wore on and now I lost that courage and fire and I am bolder on my Facebook posting than I am in real life.
I am not here on attack mode. I have been hurt by the church yes, but my faith and trust is supposed to be in Jesus. The bible says put not your trust in princes. Vain is the help of men. If I never was hurt, I’d have nothing to write about. I seem to write best when there is a knife in my back, an eye ball dangling out of the socket, and when I am dodging bullets from the front and from the rear. The words flow out of me before I bleed out. When all is well and I am happy as a clam, I write shiny happy poetry and witty MEMES on facebook. I might at that instance get LIKES from my mama, but I won’t touch this world. And I am not much help to clams either.
So please don’t take my rants personal. But if I have any personal vendetta against the church today it would be this — they don’t understand persecution. But if I am honest, I don’t understand persecution either. We don’t see it enough to make heads or tails of it, and to know when it’s persecution and when it’s just tribulation, and when it’s just the weather forecast calling for rain.
Persecution is about the only thing that really makes Christianity come alive. In America you really rarely get any dose of persecution thrown your way. In fact, when I have had it the hardest, it’s come from either 1) directly from the church or 2) indirectly from the church because I actually had a dose of real persecution and American churches wrongly assume any and all forms of persecution is the judgment of God. But at the same point, I can’t even say for sure I had real old-fashioned persecution. I will go to my grave believing I did, but I am like Mike Mulligan and the steam shovel. Mary Ann his steam shovel could dig as much in a day as 100 grown men could dig in a week, but he really was never quite sure. It was only when he was backed into a corner and forced to prove his words to find out for sure, yes, she could dig that much.
Real Christian men, in their estimation, as taught by years of conforming to church and learning to be a good fine outstanding citizen, don’t get any persecution. That is for sure. What kind of Christianity do you think we run here?
It gets fun if you want to live and follow Jesus in today’s dispensation. You will either give up or go insane, in my estimation. Here is a quick summary to bring you up to speed with me in case you are wondering. I was born in 1976. I have a birth I can’t remember. I got saved in winter 2002 and I have a birth I can’t forget. I got excited I finally knew the truth and I saw the Catholic church for the lie it was. I couldn’t wait to tell all my friends and family and my Uncle who was a Catholic Priest the truth I discovered. Many wanted to have me locked up in a padded cell right then and there. Years later when I found Facebook and friended hundred’s of family, they slowly unfriended me and I am the black sheep of the family. But the good news is though I may be the black sheep, Jesus is my shepherd. I shall not want.
I was in the modern circles and too intense for people. I would read you should witness and I was the odd ball. I wasn’t invited to a lot of church functions either. When I learned about the King James Bible, I was excited I finally knew the truth about the Bible versions and couldn’t wait to tell the few friends and Pastors and my mentor who was the college youth group leader the truth I discovered. See a pattern? Many wanted to have me locked up in a padded cell right then and there. And I was simply excited to want to help people see the light.
If you attend a church in China, they prepare you for persecution. They say set your affections on things above, and they mean that. They don’t preach for an hour and a half and then everyone breaks for the game. They don’t have church and you day dream about the pizza and wings after service. I am not complaining — I would rather eat pizza and wings than have the chance the Chinese government busts down the door and drags you out by your hair and if you don’t get run over by a steam roller or shot or tortured by Chinese Water Torture, it was a good day. However, it is a ‘necessary evil’ to take your faith seriously, as Joseph learned, God uses evil for good.
Contrast that with the American church. It isn’t always pie-in-the-sky, name-it-claim-it, bark-like-a-dog, who-wants-to-marry-a-millionaire theology. It can preach the bible and even the King James Bible and have some solid principals laying the groundwork and the foundation. What I believe the problem is, we have this Americanized prosperity idea that God is going to keep biggering and biggering things and churches and lands and while that may be so, things are not going to be easy. First, God said he has cursed the ground for thy sake — for our sake, God put thorns and thistles in the ground and has made it hard for man to make a living. It used to be easy in the garden, it was a paradise of milk, honey, non-forbidden fruits, and not a pesticide in sight. It was easy living. Once the fall of man happened, a curse came forth.
Let’s look at Genesis 3.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
The job market is going to be tough. It is going to be hard to make a living, plain and simple. Now add to that the challenges of today – corporate greed means you no longer have a 9-5 job for 30 years and a pension to look forward to. You are lucky if you don’t get fired after the first year. Three times in my pharmacy experience, I had a great boss who hired me and was easy to work with. They were impressed with my job I did but then neo-liberal-Nazi’s took over and I was forced out each time.
If I was a pharmacist in China, I would have been embraced and welcomed. Instead, the American church implied I did something wrong, like Job’s friends. The bible says those that live Godly in Jesus will be persecuted. I think the reason it’s not reality in America is for several reasons. First, we are still living in the shadow of the blessings of years ago when our country was a beacon of Light and a pillar of Righteousness. America has since lost it’s way and the blessings are running out. Yet on the flip side it rains on the unjust and the just. And on the other flip side, the bible says he has never seen the righteous go hungry or begging bread. The Bible says consider the lilies and the ravens. God feeds the ravens. God takes care of the lilies. God waters the crops of the just and waters the crops of the unjust. There are famines in the African deserts and people starving to death, and in many ways it is from direct rejection of God and in other ways it’s indirect rejection of God by being ignorant of God’s teaching on rotating crops and sanitation. I say all this to say, God seems to bless who he wants when he wants, and often there is prosperity of the wicked that prosper in spite of God, and it seems God will take care of us whether we tithe or not.
I don’t think any of us can ever know for sure when it’s chastisement vs. persecution and when it’s God prospering and when it’s God just being good to all so no one has an excuse on Judgment Day. I think we are foolish to judge and it seems every church is right in it’s own eyes, so if their member has something bad happen, it’s persecution and if it’s someone outside of church it’s chastisement.
My plea is this — encourage the members to find adventure. Encourage them to find a voice on the job, to be daring, to take bold stands and say “NO, I’m not going to serve that beer! No, I’m not baking that cake! No, I’m not dispensing the morning after abortion pill! Fire me or let me be!!!!” and if they fall trying to be bold, catch them. Have a fund raiser, put them in jobs the brethren hold, support them until they get back on their feet.
Prepare the church to live a radical, separated, exciting life. Don’t separate living for Jesus and a life free of persecution. Don’t cater to the masses. Maybe instead of building programs, start some selling programs. Downsize the churches like God did to Gideon and maybe cater to the remnant instead. It won’t look as impressive to the brethren, but Jesus will be in the midst.