In the Christian world, we are taught that Jesus is the answer to all our problems. He is the Savior of the world, no doubt, and I personally strive to follow Him every day. But following Jesus is not going to make your problems in life go away, or even necessarily get better. So why do some think that being a Christian will eliminate our problems? What teaching have we followed that has led us to believe this? Because that sure isn't in the Bible. As Donald Miller so perfectly pointed out in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, “It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria.”
So often, I think we view God as a genie in a lamp – a being that exists only to give us what we want if we just ask for it. That somehow we’re immune from despair because we have wishes stored up that can be fulfilled.
Christians expect things out of being a Christian, and when those things aren't fulfilled or life doesn't turn out the way they've planned, they become disappointed or feel let down – like God didn’t deliver His end of the bargain. And that leads to becoming cynical, bitter, and angry.
So many have entered the world of Christianity with so many expectations – expectations that the church has given, knowingly or not – that they didn’t even have a fighting chance at a genuine relationship with Christ. No life can live up to the expectations that so many churches place on the Christian life. And how is anyone supposed to fight for something that they don’t really understand?
So why promise something that isn’t reality? To increase the numerical convicts per service? To pat themselves on the back? To validate their own existence? How are they fooling themselves?
How has modern day Christianity managed to turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ into simply do’s and don’ts? And then when you do a don’t – and we all do – the guilt trips are so thick that some end up never forgiving themselves, or even hating themselves, living the rest of their lives in shame. Tell me, how is one supposed to spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ when they feel worthless? Or like they’re just not good enough? How does the church preach against evil, and yet let evil in in the form of shame and blame? How do we miss this?
How do we miss the chance at a real relationship with Christ because we’re so busy with the religion? In the name of “modernizing” and “maintaining relevance” – terms that oh so many churches use today to justify their program-based decisions within the church – we’ve lost it. We’ve lost what it really means to follow Christ. Instead we’ve replaced it with programs, intelligent lights, fancy graphics, and trendiness.
When did we start to commercialize Christianity? And when did we lose our way and think that was right and acceptable? When did the people in the church become so uninformed of the teachings of Scripture that we fail to recognize when something is “off”?
As A.W. Tozer so concisely writes in his book The Pursuit of God,
“To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.”
I mean, wow. Does that not represent most of what we see today in the modern church culture? And does that not just make your heart sad?
And just maybe all of this has something to do with this generation’s unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, bitterness, anger, and coldness towards God.
How did we get here?
My intention is to provoke thought, not to necessarily find resolution.