The Church re-Finding Our Place (Pt. I)

Christian culture has become as consumeristic as the mall. I’ve been thinking lately about the cross-section we are currently living in between faith and culture. This is bad news in some ways and great news in others.

Let's start with the bad. We have so commodified our worship gatherings into a means of consumption that our language of “connect with the Pastor” and “love the worship music” is all we have to describe our experience on a Sunday morning. Now, it isn’t bad to attend somewhere that you connect with a speaker or are able to engage with a band. However, when a gathering on Sunday morning becomes the pinnacle of our Christian experience then we have a problem. Jesus didn’t die so that you could attend a music and teaching event on Sunday mornings, and if you like it - leave a tip.

Jesus died so that we would be poured out as food for the world. Because of Jesus’ death we are invited to live in a way that is responsive and invitational. This lifestyle that we are invited to is a 24/7 way of being.

If that’s why Jesus died then why have we made our faith so much about  an experience on Sunday mornings? It’s the equivalent of being a football player and only caring about the huddle, hearing them call the play, but closing your eyes every time the ball is snapped.

The issue I keep coming back to is that our problem isn’t a new problem at all. The Israelites were like that too.

The Israelites were God’s people in the Old Testament. They were the descendants of Abram, whom God made a covenant with and said that God would be faithful to Abram’s descendants. The Israelites knew who they were. It wasn’t a secret to any of them that they were God’s people. However, there was this seismic disconnect between what they knew and how they lived. The Old Testament is as long as it is because it’s (part of) a narrative of God reconciling humanity. If the Israelites understood their role as God’s people, to live in communion with God, then the entire Bible would be 150 pages long. 

We have this highly-saturated culture that outsources everything to the point that we’ve forgotten what it takes to commit to discipleship. This saturation has watered down our faith to a consumer faith that says: do good, be a nice person, and you’ll get poofed to heaven when you die. This has made our spiritual journey one based on choosing programs morethan being refined in the likeness of God. 

If all that matters in this life is doing good and being nice to score a golden ticket to the streets of gold then why would we value church? Why is Christian community important? What’s the point of our work and our rest?

I believe that the core of what I’m circling around is that we have adopted a cultural theology of evacuation that says let’s get out of here and go somewhere else. 

If this theology of evacuation were true, doesn’t it make more sense to just make enough to live  how we want, then get off work, go to church a lot, and give a little of our extra money to “spiritual” work so we can get people into heaven when they die?

(to be continued…)

In the next two blog posts I’m going to argue for what our role could be as followers of Christ. Stay tuned and thanks for reading, share it with your friends!

Jeremy SchultheissComment