The Absent Church

I realize that the following could be viewed as very judgmental, but I have decided to post it anyways. I assure you it was not meant to come across as such. I am a screwed up sinner too; I realize that more and more each day. Take this with a grain of salt. I’m an idealist, and this is what’s on my heart.

I was going to write about how it has now been a year since I started this blog. I was going to write about how I’m amazed that it’s still going; how it doesn’t seem like that long. But instead I find myself stuck on the superficiality of Christians…again. I believe in  Christ, but the Church, His oh so imperfect bride frustrates me  often. We say ‘Let’s celebrate the reason for the season!’ then show a white baby wrapped in whiter lacy ‘swaddling clothes’ in a clean stable. In a perfect world. “Support  a child and win a 25 dollar gift card”: the title of an e-mail in my inbox, an e-mail from a prominent Christian company. Really? What kind of a sick motivation is that?

Do we really know who it is we are celebrating? We sing about the one who is “lowly, meek, and mild.” Lowly, yes, Jesus had the gift of poverty…but meek? They say meek means power under control, but to be honest that’s not what I think of when I say that word. Mild? I think not. He touched everyone He came into contact with. He was extreme in almost every sense of the word. Do we know the Christ of Christmas? Really? He’s safe if we keep Him in the manger; we can play with that idea, and hope for peace on earth. Or we can read the gospels, and wrestle to understand the amazing God-man who defied expectations frequently.

Do we really want to be like that? Or do we just want to be safe little Christians in our sterile churches where it’s nice, and comfortable? Do we ignore Friday’s shooting, and refuse to let the scary things permeate our bubbles? Or do we weep with anguished hearts, and dare to ask hard questions? I’m not perfect. I don’t want to judge here. I like safety. I don’t like change. But at what price? What kind of a reputation do we have with the world when we try to put band-aid sized answers on impossible sized questions? Why are we so afraid of the words ‘I don’t know’? Where is the church of Christ- where are His disciples when the world needs them most?

God is not relegated to America. Our Lord is not the Lord of our country, but the Lord of the world. Why do we get stuck on stupid little things? What is wrong here? People are hurting, and we’re having cookie exchanges, and Christmas cantatas. We blame the world for distracting us with lights, and glitz, but in reality we’re also distracting ourselves. Those things aren’t wrong, but what about everything we say we stand for? Praise God for sending Jesus…So what? We’ll pay missionaries to spread His good news?  What good is it if we don’t get the word out, love on people, and live (really live) like He did?

Categories: Ponderings, rants | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The Absent Church

  1. “Support a child and win a 25 dollar gift card”: the title of an e-mail in my inbox, an e-mail from a prominent Christian company. Really? What kind of a sick motivation is that?

    Well said! But then, I’m probably more of an extremist in these matters than you 🙂

    The Christmas of America has nothing to do with the Bible. Certainly there are followers of Jesus Christ who give thanks and praise unto God in both their thoughts and deeds at this time of the year, (and all the rest of the year!) so I do not suggest it is sinful to rejoice at “Christmas” but as a cultural event within western civilization this “holiday” has nothing to do with God and everything to do with people feeling good about themselves.

    In the New Testament there is no command, exhortation, encouragement, or example of Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. Why not? That might be a good thing for people to ponder. A careful reading of the NT will reveal that the one thing we were called to remember and commemorate was the death and resurrection of Jesus–and the places where this is mentioned seem to indicate such rememberance occured more often than once a year in a big shin-dig at Easter. But everything people have such a to-do about has nothing to do with the Bible, and you can be stoned for heresy for suggesting such.

    Post-New Testament historical circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that Christmas was a pagan holiday celebrating Sol Invictus (the unconquered sun god) which was taken over by the Roman Catholic Church. This is disputed, especially by those who do not like the implications, but in any case the historical record does not indicate Jesus was born on our present commonly celebrated day and it was simply chosen (whatever the reason) to satisfy people’s fancy.

    Of course, as you allude to, the problems of the present day church are much bigger than “Christmas” but it is certainly a time of year where certain problems of thought and priorities within the church is on prominent display.

    • Yes, probably.

      Haha. People are fond of their holidays aren’t they. I would agree that we aren’t commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth specifically. I agree that we make Christmas too much about ourselves. I have always had my doubts about the accuracy of the date of Christmas. Honestly though, I can’t think of a holiday that hasn’t had pagan influence. I eat chocolate rabbits at Easter like the rest of the world. Personally, this has never bothered me much. Regardless of the date I don’t think that it is bad to celebrate Christ’s birth. Though the non-presence of the command may shed some light on the non-presence of much account of Christ’s childhood as well.

      • I think my comment above came across more negative than I intended. I should have been more careful in how I phrased my words.

        I don’t have a problem with Christmas as such. My family has a celebration on Christmas, though our traditions are rather non-traditional. I enjoy the occassion as a time to appreciate my family and rejoice in God’s goodness–but I don’t consider it any kind of Christian obligation. I don’t consider myself better than the Christians around the world, and throughout history, who didn’t (or don’t) celebrate Christmas. Neither do I have any personal problem with other family’s traditions and Christmas celebrations, whatever they be. I guess what irritates me a bit (and what probably came across a little too strongly in the previous comment above) is when people act like it is some holy Christian duty to celebrate Christmas and defend the “most sacred day” from pagan encroaches. Those kind of priorities and attitudes don’t reflect the Bible.

        I agree that whether Jesus was actually born on Dec. 25th does not matter in regards to people celebrating it then. Since we have no command in the Bible on the matter, they may celebrate it whenever they like. My comment about the doubtfulness of Jesus actually having been born on that day was because of people who act like of course it must be celebrated on that day beause Jesus was born on that day. I cringe at that because there is no such evidence.

        I agree with you that all the holidays of our present culture are pagan influenced, and that doesn’t bother me either. I pointed out that tid-bit about Christmas origins not because it is some scandal to me (it isn’t) but because of the people who act like our Christmas celebration came out of the mouths of the apostles (or something like that).

        For me, it is why I am doing what I am doing that I must give account for. So, if I am rejoicing before God for His goodness and provision (whatever “holiday” it happens to be) that’s what matters. That’s what is important, not the outward things. I should have been more careful to put that emphasis in my first comment.

        I hope that tempers my previous remarks a bit.

      • I probably came off a bit strong too. Though, to reassure you, that wasn’t the feeling I got from your last comment. I was probably just in too much of a rush when I replied, and didn’t add words to temper my ‘debate’. It wouldn’t be the first time. Sorry.

        Yes, I totally agree. And the why is often hard to keep in focus not only due to the outward tradition, but to the commotion in my own heart.

      • I didn’t find your initial reply too strong at all! You came across as quite tempered in your remarks. The worst it did was make me feel I ought to be more careful in tempering mine, which is hardly a bad thing!

  2. Karen

    Good points, but I believe that you can be a good Christian and still have cookie exchanges. After all, not only did Jesus attend wedding celebrations, but he turned water into wine so that the guests could enjoy themselves!

    I am financially poor, and I’ve received several Christmas boxes of food. (Even after a generous tithe of this food, I’ve still got cans & boxes stacked everywhere.) People generously gave me canned vegetables & boxed macaroni & cheese, as well as brownie mixes & canned pie filling.

    I don’t believe that people were being foolish or showing they weren’t good Christians — I’m sure they wanted me to have something that I didn’t need but probably wanted, something sweet to eat.

    A couple of days ago I finally put up my tiny Christmas tree, with the tiny ornaments that bring back memories. I’ve been listening to the old vinyl records that I’ve been hearing since I was a little girl.

    I try to remember the real meaning of Christmas, but I also try to enjoy myself. I believe both are important.

    • Yes, I would agree. It’s when we take out one, and (even as Christians) make it all, or even mostly about the other that priorities get screwed up.

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