Friday, April 17, 2009

Why Don’t We Make a Difference?

I was having a conversation the other night with a Honduras mission trip alum at Perspectives and he was asking a very good question. The teacher that night was Bobby Gupta and he was kind of giving us a Christian pep talk. He was telling us how Evangelical Christianity is growing faster than any other religion and how many churches had been planted and how many people were coming to believe the gospel. These are very good things to know, it's nice to know that the movement you belong to is vibrant and growing, but my friend was asking the question "why don't we make a difference?" Dr. Gupta was kind of addressing this question, but not really and my friend really wanted to know where the meat was. Pep talks are good I said, but it's like a battle. We can get the soldiers really fired up and encouraged, but if you don't give them weapons, they're gonna lose the battle.

Then it hit me. In one of my great moments of bullcraptitude I conjured a truly profound thought. I said "We live in a culture where everyone is either spiritual but not religious or religious but not spiritual." The difference is one of those groups will readily admit it, the other one wont.

Let us explore. On one hand are the religious, the typical white Anglo Saxon protestant Christian conservative republican. On the other hand you have the typically non-religious educated yuppie liberal who still believes in some form of spirituality whether it be an eastern philosophy or Crossing Over with John Edward. Yes I know there are other hands here, but keep with me.

Why are the Christians not making a difference in this country? A recent event speaks to this, at least in my mind. A few days ago, thousands of people lined up at various ponds and lakes and threw tea bags in the water. They were protesting taxes, all good and fine, but so many of them had signs protesting taxes in God's name. I believe the when Jesus was asked about whether or not to pay taxes, he said "Give to Caesar that which is Caesar's." He didn't say "F*** Caesar, don't give that m0~#&* f@(&#$ a g@& d@!* thing!"

Why aren't we fighting poverty? Why aren't we caring for unwed mothers? Why aren't we feeding the hungry? These are all things that Jesus explicitly wanted us to do, he never said anything about fighting taxes. Forget the blessed money; if Jesus wants you to have money, there isn't a tax on earth that can take it away from you. These are the things this country needs. In other countries they need clean water to drink before you can tell them about the gospel, they need food in their bellies before they can listen to stories about Jesus. In this country, we have food, we have water, what people need is for someone to care about them, to care for them, to love them.

That's why American Christians don't make a difference, because the only difference between them and the guy in the car next to them in traffic is that they go to church on Sunday or Saturday or they have a fish with no legs on the back of the car. The reason why American Christians don't make a difference is because there is no difference. There just is no difference.

I'm not trying to float my own boat, but those of you who know me, you know, there is a difference and it's not the difference you'd expect. There is a difference because I choose to be more like them than I do you. And believe me, I know, you don't take all that kindly to it, and I am willing to bear that burden. But I will live what I believe, because I'm not religious in that I'm not a republican, but I am spiritual because I am a Jesus Freak. Christianity is not a religion, you don't just do and believe stuff and are a Christian, signing a piece of paper doesn't make it so and answering an alter call has no effect.

You meet Jesus. And when you meet Jesus you are a Christian. You have to meet Jesus.



Anonymous said...

OK, as you probably hoped, one of "us" read your blog. You know, the "us" that know you. That think you are different and you have to bear our opinions of you as a burden. Really??? Is that what you think of us?

I liked your blog on the whole, but you lost me on the last paragraph. What are you doing that makes you so different from us? Do you not consider working with youth that valuable? Do you feel that because you voted for Obama it makes you better, more compassionate? I think that you don't think that, but honestly you come across like that. Unless the "you who know me" bit wasn't about us- which I think would be strange because who else would you be writing to?

"...what people need is for someone to care about them, to care for them, to love them." is so true, you write so beautifully yet I am wondering what widows you are taking care of, what homeless you are pouring your life into. and maybe there a ton and you are modest and don't brag. Which would be commendable. I feel for people too, I care about people too. I give money to probably a lot of the same causes as does everyone else in our group. Who is the "they" you want to be more like that us?

Who do you love? Is it now about works? Do you think you do more than we do for the cause of Christ? that we are placid, lukewarm Christians who vote Republican? If its about works, than I will win. Ha ha, I'm being funny here, but seriously, I'm moving in with my PARENTS so we can better serve God with our finances and give more to his work being done. If that isn't dedication to a cause... then I don't know what is! I'm being ridiculous, I know, but you seem to be narrowing down your opinion of all Christians based on their works. That you have to approve of. That sounds legalistic to me.

Thoughts are fine, yours are amazing and mostly insightful, but as one of the people that make you "bear a burden", I feel hurt. Are we really that bad?


WiredForStereo said...

H, I really want to get this reply right, so I took some time to sit down and reread everything I wrote and what you wrote, so here it goes.

You should know that this was written partially in response to a wild conversation at Youth Cell Group, but mostly to Perspectives.

Of the people I am close to (other than married to,) you are the one who is the most ok with who I am and what I do. You should know that by now. The “you” is not just you (H) per se, but mostly the others. My own mother-in-law refuses to use the sawdust toilet and will not eat anything from my garden because of the source of fertilizer. I don’t know who will tell her that the fertilizer on the food she eats is made from oil. I’d rather eat mine. I digress.

There is nothing that makes me intrinsically different than the rest of you, except one thing, in your case: when I say we, what I really mean is we, it is not a veiled accusatory. I am a man, what I say I mean, literally. We=We (me included)

The only “they” is the tax protesters. I truly consider myself happy to have nothing to do with that group.

Last big paragraph: I don’t really know what you’re talking about there. Once again, when I say we, what I mean is we all, not you all. Also, is there something wrong with narrowing my opinion about Christians based on their works? Is that not the only thing I have to consider them upon? The Bible certainly forbids judging their motives. You do the same thing. The difference is that I say when I disapprove of something, and if you have a problem with my disapprovals, then you can disapprove of my disapprovals. I try to base my disapprovals on scripture, as if there were some better ruler to measure with.

If Christians aren’t acting very Christianly, then I’ll disapprove of it, and that’s something you’ll have to understand about me. But you must also understand that my view of the religion of Christianity is a bit different than yours. My goal (not reached often) is to represent Jesus, and if I see someone who claims to represent Jesus (lets call these people “Christians”) and is not, then I’ll say something about it. I’m not getting up and saying “I wouldn’t do that.” What I am saying is “Jesus wouldn’t do that.” Because I’m not that great of a person to measure yourself up to. But Jesus is.

Again, this blog, this post, this stuff is not about me. I am not comparing you to me. I am comparing “we” to what “we” should be. I never said I did any more than any one else, and I never will. I am not more spiritual than you. I don’t believe myself to be any more in touch with God than anyone, in fact, I’d say I am the least in touch with God that I have been in years, and it hurts me to my very core. I am not anything. And the burden I bear from the criticisms of others stems from the realization that they might just think of me the same way I do. I don’t have a good opinion of me. Because I don’t do enough. I am not enough. Like I asked Josh: What kind of person does it make me when I believe that the very sound of my voice annoys people? But if what I have said strikes a chord with you, then maybe your defensiveness comes out because you think you might fit into that category I’ve made. Because this is not about me, but you obviously believe it has something to do with you.

Anonymous said...

All right, thanks first of all, you obviously took some time to respond and thought it through. I appreciate that. Second of all, I don't have a lot of time so I don't think that this adequately responds to you but I agree with you that my disapproval of you disapproving is hypocritical.

I think more of my problem is how you verbalize your criticisms, you sound condescending- which, I guess you are, but it also says to speak the truth in love. People respond better when you aren't attacking them.

As far as your last paragraph, the problem I had were these sentences, "I'm not trying to float my own boat, but those of you who know me, you know, there is a difference and it's not the difference you'd expect. There is a difference because I choose to be more like them than I do you. And believe me, I know, you don't take all that kindly to it, and I am willing to bear that burden."
You said "those of you who know me". You made it a you vs. me. So the subsequent usage of the word "you" I can infer was directed at myself and our friends. I believe that it has something to do with me, simply due to the fact that I KNOW YOU.

I know I'm not enough, I'm not defensive about being put in that category, because I know I'm in it- without a doubt, how can I be defensive of being not enough? that is why we need Jesus so he can be that in our lives. I'm defensive about apparently making you suffer with the burden of feeling like an outcast. I have felt that way most of my life too, it sucks, and the last thing ANY ONE OF US is make you feel isolated. I think we all take "kindly to" you. Don't let your own opinions of yourself create isolation. I have done that and it's a miserable place to be. I'm not just saying that to make you feel better, it's the truth. We love you and L (and of course your delightful son) and even though you scare the crap out me every week with your acrobatics with said son, we like you guys in our group. We like your opinions and insights in part because they are DIFFERENT. Different is good, it keeps us from being in our little bubble. I embrace differing opinions, they challenge my own pre-conceived notion of what is right and wrong on a Christianity plane.

Basically what I'm saying is that it's easier to forgive others and put up with them (bear the burden), but when you come to a place where you truly love yourself, you truly won't give a crap. It won't be a burden anymore. and I'm in grief counseling right now, any good thing that is said in this response is from my counselor and anything stupid is from me. So, I'm still screwed up as you can infer by my previous statement. lol


PS I hate the sound of my voice too. it's 12-year-old meets valley girl. Not at all representative of my thoughts inside.

WiredForStereo said...

It really is hard to disagree with someone. It's a simple fact, and you'd think that I'd know that by now ;-)

I know what you mean about different being good, but different doesn't always feel good. You know that.

The thing is, I'm not tight with Jesus right now. I'm just not and I don't know why. I'd love to say Jesus is my homey, but right now Jesus is just that guy I met that one time. It really hurts.

The truth is, I don't like me. Forget whether I'm enough for everyone else, I'm not enough for me. I'm not happy with me. Why does it always have to be me to be the one who disagrees with everyone? I want to reach out to people so bad, but there's just times when I just fucking hate everybody. Lately those times have come more often and stayed for longer. I can't stop swearing (it doesn't come out though, except in blog posts.)

Hang on, I need to write a new post.