For you yourselves know full well that
the day of the Lord will come just like a
thief in the night.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:2
Often when I can’t sleep my mind wanders to eternity. It’s a frightful thing to ponder eternity. For some reason in the middle of the night, when I’m tired but wide awake thinking about all these things, God takes me to places I’d rather not go.
Sometimes I just can’t comprehend the idea of God. Go away God I might say. My mind so infantile, comprehending the incomprehensible so futile. It’s got to be hocus pocus. Perhaps I’m an anomaly but sometimes the whole concept of God and His Son and the Holy Spirit, three-in-one, savior - it all comes across as, well, absurd.
You know what brings me back? The Theory of Evolution. Interesting that while unbelievers hold on to their god of evolution, that’s what makes me realize the reality of one true God.
In these moments I wonder what life was like 2,000 years ago. Why did the people back then reject Jesus? Go away, they said. Actually, “we’ll make you go away.” Can you imagine if Jesus came today in the same manner as he did eons ago? Or, what if his first trip wasn’t 2,000 years ago but rather right now? We’d all be saying Go Away! One religion claims that Jesus camped out in North America for a while but no evidence of this exists, in fact the entire book of that religion is wrought with fallacies. Anyway, every now and then someone makes the news claiming to be Jesus who then gets written off as a kook.
That’s probably what happened 2,000 years ago too.
Late at night, when I mentally review my checklist of unanswered prayers, in my frustration I’ll just tell God to go away. I’m on your side, I say. Is it that much of an inconvenience to just blatantly answer a prayer? Come on, man! Seriously, how much more faith could I have if every now and then a “wow, that was from God” answered prayer happened? How much more faith would all of us have?
Go away then if you’re not going to answer my prayers. It’s not like I’m asking to win the lottery. A bit of peace. Contentment like Paul’s. Purpose. Confidence in what I was created for. This is when I just don’t get God. Why is He so secretive? Almost like the government. You’ll be told what we think you need to be told, when you need it. Until then keep on keeping on.
In God’s defense, not that He needs any defending, but that last time he revealed Himself a bunch of us humans nailed Him to a tree. That would never have been me. Right? Jesus didn’t mince words when He claimed to be God. Weren’t the people of 2,000 years ago waiting for Him?
Today we wait for the rapture. Well, I guess not because more and more Christians say this is a bunch of baloney. In fact, more and more Christians say, “Go Away God.”
Apparently they call themselves the Dones or something like that. They’ve stopped going to church. Flat out stopped going to church. They’re sick of it. It’s the same thing week in and week out. Same sermon, same music, same church. These Christians are done with church.
In the article “The Rise of the Dones” Mark Sandlin says “The Church is killing spiritual community or at least killing it in an ever-growing portion of our population. The Dones’ experience with the Church killed their desire to ever go to that place of spiritual relationship in community again.”
Perhaps that old phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” comes into play here. Churches for years now keep tweaking how they approach Sunday morning worship. Gone now the traditional pews in an old wood and brick building. Warehouse worship is in or was in. That feels old now. Gone as well the hymns of Grandma, enter the rock concert of Metallica. My church offers ear plugs as you walk in. I bring my own.
Truthfully, I’ve never liked any of the music in any of the churches I’ve ever attended. The hymns were always too long and slow. Felt like eternity before I got to sit down again. The rock music style at first was new and welcoming. Now it’s all the same weepy heart-string tugging ballads.
What’s left? Church service has received a once-over several times now so let’s tweak Christianity. There’s some type of movement called the Progressive Christian. I’m not sure exactly what that is but I’m guessing it’s a liberal form of Christianity that is far different than what I was brought up to believe. My interpretation of this religion is people who claim to be Christian but embrace and promote the government to do what the church should be doing. Seriously. Though I could be wrong.
Benjamin Corey recently wrote “But Here’s 5 Reasons Why American Evangelicalism Completely Lost Me” and it’s hard to disagree with any of his points. However, Corey, as a self-professed Progressive Christian, knocks today’s evangelicals as looking more like a political movement. I must ask then what exactly does a Progressive Christian sound like? Perhaps a political movement?
Here’s another one. This on churchleaders.com. It’s entitled “Dear Church, Here’s Why People are Really Leaving You.” It’s nothing new. Seems like old points rehashed into someone else’s new argument. There’s truth in all of it but my impression from today’s “progressive” Christians is they want to embrace the world without judgment from the church. Yes, the Jesus hung out with sinners argument rings true but Jesus didn’t engage in all the debauchery.
I can’t tell you how many “millennials” I’ve heard about who grew up in the church, left for college and either rejected the faith altogether or created some type of Christian faith that fit their lifestyle. Jesus as life insurance. That is who seems to write all these “I’m leaving the church and here’s why” articles.
A while back in the Wall Street Journal a front page article discussed how the drop in church attendance in Europe shuts the doors and/or puts for sale the cathedrals and other places of worship. One church, once home to 1000 worshipers, now transformed into a skate park. The attendance stats prove even more alarming. Did you know in France only about 10 percent of the population attends church regularly? Bet that changes the weekend after a terrorist attack.
The article goes on to say “The closing of Europe’s churches reflects the rapid weakening of the faith in Europe…” The Church of England closes nearly 20 houses of worship a year, in Germany more than 500 churches have shut down in the last decade. In the Netherlands, leaders expect two-thirds of the 1,600 Roman Catholic churches to shutter in the next 10 years.
The United States offers little hope. My pastor said churches in this country shut down at alarming rates. The WSJ article seems to back up his claim in that “religious researchers say the declining number of American churchgoers suggests the country could face the same problem (as Europe) in coming years.”
Good news! In a Huffington Post article Phil Cooke lays out evidence that Christianity might just be making a comeback. Among his encouraging statistics from a Pew Research Study:
- 73 percent of U.S. adults believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
- 81 percent, the baby Jesus was actually laid in a manger.
- 75 percent, wise men guided by a star brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
- 74 percent, an angel announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds nearby.
Cooke believes the church has been giving away its voice rather than losing its voice and thus lost influence in the culture. He goes on to explain some reasons why the faith looks good for a comeback. Read it, I provided the link.
At any rate, that’s 4 to 1 indicating a decline in Christianity in some form. I actually hated church growing up and didn’t feel the need to attend church to be a Christian. I think the truth however lies in that you need to find a church to feed you. I didn’t like church because I wasn’t being fed.
Today, the most frustrating aspect to my faith centers on no one in Christendom agreeing on several important components of the faith. Personally, I don’t feel judged and thus want to leave my church because I may or may not cuss, drink, spit, scream in traffic and attend Metallica concerts. The inconsistency from one believer to the next on what I think should be core beliefs disturbs me most.
The rapture previously mentioned? That was gospel just 20 years ago. Today, humans suddenly disappearing provide a punchline. (Though those verses in the Bible clearly indicate something akin to a rapture, no?) Serious disagreements on hell exist. Gay marriage. More and more Christians have tossed the towel in on that one. Here’s an idea, let’s work together (gays and Christians) to get the government OUT of marriage. We’re living in the End Times. No, we’re not, quit being a freak. Israel doesn’t have the right to exist. Yes, I’ve heard that one from people who claim to be Christian.
If all the above is subject to interpretation then could not the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ be also?
As marijuana gets legalized throughout the country in coming years expect the emergence of pot-smoking Christians and a whole new debate on the righteousness of a few hits every now and then. Heck, why not just suck in a mound of white powder instead of coffee every morning before work. Cocaine is natural after all.
Do we even know what it means to follow Jesus? Oh and how about with “reckless abandon.” Blech. What does that even mean? The Bible says the road is narrow but from what I see and hear today it seems to me the path to Heaven isn’t all that hard.
The Bible was written 2,000 years ago for the people of their day. How do we interpret and understand centuries old Greek and Hebrew to guide us today? This is what the church fails at!
I recently heard about The Christian Left. A quick look at their website tells me they are self-professed Christians who believe government is the answer to all that ills us, rather than the church. Hmm, advocate a government that wastes 65 to 70 percent of every tax dollar collected or support reputable non-profits and churches that utilize 85 to 95 percent of every dollar donated to the intended purpose. 1 John 4:1 comes to mind her.
I was always told Jesus didn’t come as a political figure but that’s what the people of his day expected of him. The fact that he was born in a manger and not to a rich, powerful and political family helps explain why so many rejected him. They expected a traditional king. But a political savior He was not.
Has that interpretation been wrong too? Does the rising movement of the Christian Left have it right (ha ha) that Jesus wanted the government rather than his people via the church to feed the poor and care for widows and orphans? Even the great liberal Bono finally conceded that capitalism takes more people out of poverty than handouts.
I used to volunteer at my church passing out presents at Christmas every year for the poor and “underprivileged” in my community. Church members “adopted” families and I was part of the crew that delivered the gifts. I got so discouraged handing out gifts to able-bodied people with cell phones and cable and who seemingly didn’t need a hand-out, I was glad I didn’t have to do it again after we changed churches. Any objections were always met with something akin to “Oh let God sort that all out.” Really? I would think God expects a bit of proactive responsibility to prevent people from taking advantage of the church’s generosity.
The bottom line to me is Christians can’t agree on anything these days. I’ve even heard the virgin birth offered up for interpretation. Oh, the number of the beast from Revelation sung about by Iron Maiden? Could have been Nero. We don’t have to worry about the anti-Christ anymore. So all those every-few-months news articles about microchips, just scare tactics for ratings I suppose.
No wonder people leave the church!
Did anybody in 1985 really think we’d be here today? Thanks to Russell S. Doughten, I’m not sure anyone did. At least Christians.
We do have theses verses from Matthew 24 to give us all hope: “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them, See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many…. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.”
What a second, I’m guessing no one can agree on these words, either. Especially the Dones.
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