Friday, September 10, 2010

Last church post, I hope

After my last rant against churches, having offended someone I seriously do not want to offend, I have given more thought to the church issue. I have figured out what bothers me and hope I am better able to articulate it now.

I read an article once that said the problem with churches today is that they water down the message to just "Be a good person", and there's more to Christianity than that. I disagree. I think there is nothing more than that. At it's core, I believe Christ's message was to be a good person. Don't judge, help the poor, go out in the world and give of yourself and be a good person. The problem is that too many churches, and too many individuals for that matter, have watered it down to just "Accept Jesus as your savior". People believe (not all of them but a lot of them) that as long as you believe that he existed and was the son of God and has the power to save you, then you're doing what you're supposed to. He said "follow me and you'll get to the kingdom" not "worship me and you'll get there". Follow, as in follow his example. Churches could be gathering places to incite revolution, to make people excited about doing things, not just talking about things. If every Sunday were a food drive, or collecting clothes for the homeless, or anything more than sitting around talking amongst themselves about how great Jesus was and how great it is to be Christian and how to always pray and give thanks. It seems to be very much about how to be a Christian even when just sitting rather than to be about not just sitting.

It's great to give a tithing every week and listen to sermons and make every third post on your facebook status about God, but how many of those people volunteer for charities?


roberts05 said...

I agree that there is more to being a Christian than just accepting Jesus as your savior. I believe we should strive to be as Christ-like as possible, but realize that we are human and won't ever be perfect like Jesus. If we just did or acted however we wanted and just fell back on Jesus being our savior and our "get out of jail (hell) free card" then I think we are failing. I am thankful that when I do mess up (which is a lot still unfortunately) that I have a loving and forgiving God.
I do feel the need to defend my church a little though. There are many charities and other organizations we work with and collect for. We just did a clothing drive for a homeless men's shelter in Memphis. When our pastor took his daughter for her 6 year cancer free check-up, they barely had room for anything else in their car after packing in the clothes. I know you think our church spends money foolishly, but I don't understand why every single penny needs to be sent to charity. It is nice to have the technology and amenities that are available. Does that mean that since I am a Christian, I shouldn't buy the new flat screen we've been saving for and send that money to charity? I don't know how that makes someone or a church more or less close to God? I love my church family and they have done a lot (I mean A LOT) to help with my mom and her battle with cancer. I can honestly say if it wasn't for our faith and our church family, my mom would have lost her battle already.
Anyway, it is interesting to read your perspective. I just feel the need to stand up for my particular church.

chronicbliss said...

I hold churches and Christians to a higher standard because in general they claim to follow the teachings of Jesus. Why should every penny of the church's money go to charity? Because the church is supposed to be a role model for how to live according to Jesus's words and Jesus said to give to the poor rather than to amass personal wealth. Why, outside of pride, gluttony, and coveting what other churches have, would any church need all that technology and luxury? Where's the humility in having all the lavish stuff? But why does your church need that obnoxious new music system that invades my house every day if I dare to open the windows? And why, outside of luring in kids to be converted, do they need a gymnasium? Isn't that Pride? Isn't pride a sin? I'm not saying to go Amish, but all the concerts and cantatas and dinners are all for you guys. It's all Christians getting together to have a party about being Christian. It strikes me as being very self-satisfied. "I'm Christian! You too? Yay, aren't we happy about it! Don't you love it? Me too! Should we maybe do anything to make the world better now, like Jesus said? Nope, let's just sing about how happy we are that God loves us." I certainly don't think that stuff gets said or implied, or even thought, but a bunch of people sitting in a warm building listening to people sing about a man who said to do good, and then going straight home with no thought to what it meant sits wrong with me.
I am not saying you shouldn't buy your TV. My posts aren't all bout churches or Christians here in town. But the reason I don't claim to be a Christian is because I'm not sure I'm up to the task of following all that he said and I think it's kinda BS when people confuse following Christ with just worshiping him. I have family members who just sit around all the time worshiping him but never following him. I do happen to think that a person who gives up all their possessions to go work with kids in a jungle somewhere is a better Christian than one who goes to church every week, gives their ten percent, and maybe makes cookies for a bake sale every few months. Not that the bake-saler is a bad Christian, but that they aren't really doing all they could be. And I think the person who goes into the jungle to help with food and medical care is a better person than one who goes to preach and convert. I believe in leading by example, not by lecture. Jesus said, about 2000 years ago, to go out and spread the word that how you live on Earth would determine if you got into Heaven, not just your religion. Anyone could gt into the Kingsom if they followed Jesus's words. Well, not everyone has heard the message. Not everyone cares about it, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone on Earth anymore who hasn't heard of Christianity. SO now people can stop running around spreading the word and start actually living it. Buying a new TV won't make anyone a bad Christian. But for pastors and churches, who are held up as examples, I think giving the TV fund to a charity or even just to someone in need would make them a better Christian. WWJD?

roberts05 said...

The carillon music system was purchased by money donated by 1 or 2 ladies that specifically said the money was to be used for that purpose. Wasteful? Maybe, but honoring their wishes.
I don't believe the gym was put in to "lure" children in. It is a place where children (and adults) can go in a town that doesn't offer much in a way of congregation places.
As far as cantatas and concerts go. One intent (I believe) is to get people thinking and moved to "do something" I for one do not just go home and never think about what I heard. I am sure many do, but we are all human. Pastor Jeff recently finished a sermon series about not being a "yacht club" and being a "rescue society" meaning not just sitting around saying aren't we better and getting out and doing things. So I would say the intention of our church leader and many others is definitely not just sitting back and enjoying the fluff and I don't think that is happening. Maybe to outsiders that don't see the whole picture, but whatever. I'm guessing we will never do enough to satisfy some. I'm just glad the only one I really need to be concerned about judging me is God. I am not even sure why I feel the need to defend, but I just wanted to clarify some major falsehoods I read.
I will never agree that someone who goes into the jungle to spread the word is any better than me. We are all human and any sin is still a sin. There is no scale that says this sin is worse than that sin. So even the jungle dweller still sins.
I'm guessing we are just going to have to agree to disagree on many subjects here because I am sure you will come up with many counter arguments to any of my points.

chronicbliss said...

Like I said before, my post was not just about your church. In fact, most of my problems with evangelical protestantism have nothing to do with your church. My comments about Christians who don't give to charity wasn't about you, or about any other regular Christian. I don't believe that believing in Jesus automatically obligates you to be some charity saint. It was about the Glenn Beck people out there who say that charities are supposed to be the go-to for the poor, not tax funded programs and that religious folks should all vote conservative because of theat, but then they don't do anything to help the charities. I know people who love to say "go ask charities, not the government" and don't give. If you're gonna propose shutting down FEMA in favor of the Red Cross, give to the Red Cross! I do hold churches and pastors to a higher standard because they have chosen to make their religious beliefs their life. A pastor isn't just someone who believes; he's someone who has decided to devote his life to it and hold himself up as an example to his congregation. If he's going to give sermons about it, he should live it. So yes, they should do without. And yes, I do think that people who devote their lives to helping people can be better Christians. Maybe Mother Teresa wasn't a better person than anyone else, but she was a better Christian, in my eyes anyway. We all have sin, but she went above and beyond to compensate for hers.
As for the donation for the loudspeaker bells, I really wish someone had talked them out of it. I've heard that the people who live near the church were asked about it, but the damn clanging reaches my house and no one asked me if I wanted to be unable to simultaneously live in peace and have my windows open. I wonder what Jeff would think if I sat outside his house every single day with a stereo blaring my taste in music at him.