The Ramblings Of John Campea

Life Beyond The Movies

Christianity: Spiritual life or alternative

Christianity: Spiritual life or alternative Sub-Culture
I found the following quote in Dan Kimball’s new book “The Emerging Church”. I spent a little bit of time with Dan a couple of years ago down at his Church (Graceland) in Santa Cruz California. He’s a refreshing change to the stereotypical church leader. Where most modern Church “experts” look at the church as if it’s some sort of complicated business paradigm, Dan revels in the simplicity of the true faith. Anyway, here’s the excerpt:

Jesus and His teachings will not seem as strange or repelling to non-Christians as will the Christian sub-culture that we have created. Emerging generations are actually very interested in Jesus, but many times Christians get in the way.

If you disagree with me, consider this quote from an article written by a non-Christian young adult reporter for a secular music and entertainment paper. He called the article “Christapalooza: 20,000 Christians convene …God doesn’t show”. He had attended a large Christian music festival, the kind which draws in 20,000 or more people. I have been to this type of event, even been a speaker at one. They have always seemed like great fun. From what I sense it is mainly Christians who attend these events in order to hear their favorite Christian bands. But listen to this reporter’s non-Christian, post-Christian perspective:

“I have a difficult time locating any similarities between what Jesus says and does, and what the people – in particular the organizers, said and did…Jesus is a beacon of righteousness who leads the way through a dark world to eternal peace, love and salvation; the Jesus of (the festival) is a blue-light special, pointing you to a quick fix of righteous bargain in the shopping mall of endless consumption. These two versions of Christ, and the premises they entail, are antithetical. They negate one another, leading me to an unsettling, unpleasant conclusion…It was in the end, a very un-Christian affair.”

Note that he came thinking that a Christian festival would represent the Jesus he has heard about. The Jesus who was a very spiritual being. The Jesus of the Bible who wandered homelessly across the land, living among the poor. The Jesus who was known for taking times of solitude and quiet as His normal way of life. The Jesus who overturned the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.

But what this young reporter saw was entertainment– screaming teens adoring their favorite bands, loud music, and tons of money being poured out by Christian consumers eager to buy Jesus products and other Christian paraphernalia. Now you and I know that this is simply a fun way to spend a day or two. We are pretty sure that at least most of the bands and promoters love Jesus. But to someone who expected a spiritual event, it came across very foreign to him. Where was the Jesus that he had expected? Where was the Jesus who was against profit-making in God’s name, and spent His time with the poor and needy? Where was the Jesus who devoted quiet time to prayer in the garden or on a mountain? This reporter concluded that He wasn’t there and in he even subtitled the article by declaring “God didn’t show up.”

The Bible teaches us that we should “Be careful, however, that the exercise of freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Perhaps we need to apply this scriptural principle to the sub-culture we have created. In many ways, our sub-culture may cause non-Christians to stumble. In fact, it may more than likely repel them, as it does look (from the outside) to be a far cry from what we see the life of Jesus was all about. As we design ministry for the emerging church, we need to introduce people to Jesus, not to the Christian “sub-culture” of consumerism we have subtly created. We need to make sure we are not trying to see them “born again” into our Christian sub-culture and change into one of us, but be transformed by the Spirit into a disciple of Jesus. We need to teach them difference, or they may not be interested and I personally wouldn’t blame them.

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June 14, 2003 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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