By Sean Ewart
|"It's cool, you can always recommit on your death bed." - Jesus|
If most Christians think that Jesus would disapprove of modern-day Christianity, why aren’t more Christians working – on a personal level – to change that?
I’ve had probably hundreds of conversations with Christians (and believers of other faiths) over the years and I’ve learned a very obvious lesson: most people aren’t looking for [T]ruth, they’re looking for ways to justify whatever it is they’re currently doing.
Many of these conversations took place over drinks or while nursing a serious hangover (but…?). In other instances I’ve asked my believing friends who I know engage in pre-marital sex how they justify that given their stated religious beliefs (Jesus said…?). In every case the exchange is awkward – I know from personal experience that it’s not fun to be confronted with your own blatant hypocrisy.
Beyond drinking to the point of intoxication (which is a blast) and pre-marital sex (also, a blast), you can everywhere find cases of Christians living in ways that are so divergent from the teachings of the Bible that it’ll give you whiplash.
Compare what Joel Osteen said – “It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It's God's will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt.” – with what Jesus said – “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God… But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”
It’s hard to imagine that Osteen has the same Bible I’ve read.
The point I’m trying to make isn’t that hypocrisy is somehow shocking. In nearly every conversation I’ve had with Christians wherein I’ve pointed out the daylight between what they say they believe and how they behave I’m reminded that not everyone is perfect.
But it seems like instead of taking personal failings as a call to strive towards greater heights too many Christians (and probably everyone else too) see this reality as an excuse to keep on keeping on. “Hey man, not everyone is perfect, so why should I bother?”
In the end, if my observations bear any connection to reality, I think the real issue is that, no matter how many people claim to believe in the tenets of Christianity (77% of Americans in 2012), not very many of them really, genuinely believe. If you really thought that the only way to come into a right relationship with God, who created everything including you, was to accept Jesus as your Lord and personal savior and then follow in his footsteps, wouldn’t you take it a bit more seriously?
I’m not advocating that anyone believe in Christianity. I think most religious faith is ridiculous at best (where’s the evidence for any of the claims religious people make?). But if Christians are looking around at their fellow believers and reaching the same, overwhelming conclusion that today’s religion is probably not what Jesus would have wanted, and then not doing anything about it, what does that say about the state of religious faith? How futile.
I’ll end my rant with a brief anecdote:
I recently attended a fish fry Friday event hosted by a group of Catholics who were observing Lent. I asked them why they eat fish on Friday’s in the run up to Easter (I thought it was an obvious question). Not one of them could answer me. “We’ve just always done it,” they said.
I think that’s a fairly representative statement about religion more broadly. Why do people say they believe in Christianity when the only way they made it to Sunday morning service is thanks to a handful of ibuprofen and a Gatorade? Why does anyone bother thanking God for their food when they spent the night before knocking boots with someone they have no intention of marrying?
They just do it! That’s the answer. It’s just what they do and what they’ve always done and it feels good because it’s familiar or inviting or not all that tough – certainly not tougher than starting over in a brand new intellectual environment. They know that Jesus probably wouldn’t like it, but damn it, Jesus doesn’t seem all that real to most people, anyway, so why bother? After-all, a deathbed conversion is a lot easier than trying to actually do all that stuff Jesus talked about.
Apathy is a strong anesthesia.