I’m not sure whether Evangelical Christianity is the most prominent form of visible Christianity at the moment, or if it’s just that I have been drawn to the mediums by which it’s most vocally promoted (the internets, basically) but it’s certainly true that when I first became a serious spiritual seeker, this particular flavour of christianity was the one most readily available to me . It’s also, ironically (is that ironic? in my head it is…) the form that I have an instinctive distrust of (because of areas such as biblical literalism, salvation by faith not works, the sinners prayer). I found that I had to dig deeper, to really find out about other forms of expression that didn’t seem to wear a flashing sign signalling ‘Christianity; you’re doing it wrong’.
I was convinced that my views of religion, and those held about Christianity by my extended family were just not valid. Most of what I came up against at first was precisely what I have a hard time stomaching about religion, so I had to persevere. I wanted to persevere. Read hidden meaning in to that, if you like…
Here’s what I found. Faith not works is too easy, and the essense of Christianity is fairly confronting.
Jesus was hard-core. Really, he was. Don’t bury your father, come with me. You want to follow me? You’re going to be homeless, baby. Give up everything that you have, and be my disciple. Give it all to the poor. No, not what’s left over after you buy an ipad 3 (to use a particularly relevent anaology) but all of it.
Crap. That makes me really uncomfortable.
Or, say a prayer and be saved. That’s it. If you really mean it, then salvation is yours.
Oooh, I MUCH prefer that option. Option B! Option B!
But from what I can tell about Jesus, that’s not what he wanted. It’s not what he said, and it’s certainly not how he acted. He made people uncomfortable and he rocked the boat.
But, it’s no wonder that people prefer the second option. Much more user friendly. Much more, whats the word….useless?
I’m reading ‘The Hole in Our Gospel’ by Richard Stearns, and it’s making me both uncomfortable and deeply contemplative. And that’s just me, a wishy-washy wannabee Christian. I can’t imagine the impact that this book must have on those committed and passionate people who truly believe that the Gospel is the word of God. Surely only a complete overhaul of our current way of living is the answer?
On page 59 of his book, Richard Stearns paraphrases and modernises Matthew 25;
“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, but you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviours that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved”
Like I said; uncomfortable.
I really need to take a good, hard look at myself.