Sunday, January 28, 2007


I think Christians are lazy.
Obviously this isn’t meant to refer to all Christians but for sure, some are lazy.
I think some of the laziest Christians are the ones who have been Christians for the longest time.
They are so used to being surrounded by church and God and teaching and preaching and singing that they don’t take responsibility for their own knowledge of Christ and what their own salvation not only means but requires.
There is a culture of Christianity. This isn’t altogether wrong. In fact, it’s very right. Cultures arise wherever you find groups of people working toward a common goal. There’s a workplace culture, a social culture, a family culture, and ethnic culture. It’s normal and healthy.
The problem in Christian culture is that after a while we start forgetting why we made the decisions that define us and it can become, like any culture, exclusive or even archaic.
Those who hold tight to the practices of yesteryear tend to do so citing that the world has changed and they are taking a stand for holiness based on the holiness of the generations prior. This is true and not true at the same time. If it were 100% truth that the farther back you go, the higher the standards were based on cultural standards, there’s no one since the 1800s who has even come close.
Read the Bible, yes the New Testament, you know...the grace part. You’ll find lots of references to cultural customs that we don’t honor today. Even those old-time Believers aren’t doing things the first century way. Women are teaching, that includes this one. Anybody walking around with their head uncovered? On and on cultural references are laced through the epistles.
I was raised in an Assembly of God church. Pentecostal, rapture-watching, tongue-speaking. Our pastor’s wife never wore slacks. We girls were required to wear skirts to all church events. No theatres. No amusement parks. No school dances. No secular music. NO NO NO!
Were they wrong? No. So they were right! No.
It was cultural. It was the expression of those people in that time trying with sincere hearts to stand for God in a way that honored him.
But it wasn’t Biblical. And it wasn’t forever.
I know Christians today who can’t seem to deal with a faith that looks different than what their particular expression of religion looks like. They make it way harder than it is.
Because it ain’t that hard.
That’s where the lazy thing comes in. And where the Christian culture goes sour. Sometimes, sometimes we embrace the culture without the heart. Or we mistake the culture as the heart. Culture is expression. It’s values, beliefs, principles and personalities wrapped around time and location. And some of it needs to be let go of or at least re-examined.
Let me tell you a little story. My grandmother is Hungarian, 100%. She has raised us with many wonderful aspects of her heritage and we embrace it. One of those aspects is Hungarian food and specifically stuffed cabbage. We love stuffed cabbage. My Aunt Sue, early in her marriage to my uncle, wanted to embrace his heritage by making stuffed cabbage. My grandma taught her the fine art of mixing the meat and rice, rolling the cabbage and putting it into a roaster to bake. She placed an inverted plate on top of the cabbage rolls and into the oven it went.
My Aunt Sue made stuffed cabbage this way for years. One day someone asked her why she put a plate on top of the rolls. Her answer? “I don’t know, that’s how I was taught!”
Christianity, for some of us, happens the same way. We live our lives in a certain manner but when we’re challenged we respond, “I don’t know, that’s how I was taught!”
In stuffed cabbage that’s a good enough answer. In life, it is not.
Even worse is when we try to call our culturalisms holiness.
You see, you can’t be holy based on not listening to rock and roll. You aren’t holy if you’ve never had a drink of alcohol or if you’re a virgin.
Not going to the movies, not swearing and refusing to dance at weddings doesn’t make you holy either.
Holiness is a state of heart. A holy heart reads the Word and wants to understand it. A holy heart is broken when people hurt. A holy heart longs to worship and lives to serve. A heart that is holy has no room for grudges or spite or anger.
A heart that is holy shouts “Hallelujah!” when a gay person or an ex-convict or a drug addict or schizophrenic sits down next to them in church.
A holy heart can travel around in a tattooed, pierced, tattered and broken body.
I don’t care how you meld Christianity and culture. Three piece suit or biker’s colors. Call me sister or call me dude.
Just don’t be one of those lazy Christians who thinks the package reflects the Savior.
It’s the heart that does the reflecting.
How’s your heart?

1 Corinthians 6:12
"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.


Deb said...

I'm lovin' this post.

Raised in an A/G church --I grew up with very similar "religious" rules....

For the moment, I'm at a Nazarene church--they speak so often of holiness...yet I won't become a member because I would have to sign something that says I won't drink alcohol. Forgive me, but I'm Italian. We drink wine....'s a CULTURAL thing...

great post Sara!

tina fabulous said...

i've always been baffled by the way the church interprets cultural standards of decency as canonical standards of holiness.
i wasnt allowed to wear pants to church until wwc... i'm sure you can imagine what a hard sell that one was with my mom. but i'm happy to say she's no longer concerned with such nonsense... although i'm sure my grams considers her quite rebellious!

Richard said...

A good rant.

Following the Truth is hard. We can get caught up in wanting to interpret the Bible in our image. We can get caught up in not wanting to interpret the Bible at all (literalists).

My view on the Bible (not necessarily popular among Christians) is that it is a record of the Jewish experience of God.

I try to avoid forming God in my image. Mostly my core beliefs remain unchanged, sometimes I see it from a perspective that is different from the "official" one.

I tihnk this little passage from John Mark Ministries (no affiliation, I am a Roman Catholic) adds some nice perspective:

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Ghandi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Ghandi he asked him, "Mr. Ghandi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"

Ghandi replied, "Oh, I don't reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Apparently Ghandi's rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practising law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian. And so he decided to attend a church service. As he came up the steps of the large church where he intended to go, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. "Where do you think you're going, kaffir?" the man asked Ghandi in a belligerent tone of voice.

Ghandi replied, "I'd like to attend worship here."

The church elder snarled at him, "There's no room for kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I'll have my assistants throw you down the steps."

From that moment, Ghandi said, he decided to adopt what good he found in Christianity, but would never again consider becoming a Christian if it meant being part of the church.

How we treat those others tells people MORE about what we believe, and what following Jesus means to us than all tracts we pass out, or all the fine semons we deliver.

Margie said...

my gram always says "you wore 'that' to church"? Usually jeans and a shirt, but I have been known to show up in sweats if I was too lazy or nothing else was clean.

My heart? you really want to know? it's longing for Jesus. And anyone can sit by me in church, I'll be in the middle section, row 4, seat 209 unless mac comes along with Trevor, then it's seat 210.

KayMac said...

nice job tackling a tough subject. i think lots of us will be surprised to find what Jesus thinks is most important and what we have thought to be most important...haven't lined up.

Mrs. Mac said...

Good post!