30 Days…as a Christian?

April 15, 2006 at 9:45 pm (Church, Evangelicalism™)

Calvin and I just watched (courtesy of a link on this blog) an episode of some show called “30 Days” (never heard of it before today). In this particular episode, they had a typical, white middle-class male, of the Christian persuasion, spend 30 days with a family of Muslims in a predominantly Muslim community. He followed them to the mosque, discussed stuff with them, had a Muslim teacher to help learn about Islam, etc. etc. Well anyways, aside from being an interesting and thought-provoking watch, I came away thinking several things.

The first thought that came to my mind, of course, was that why is it that every major world religion expects its followers to learn the language of its Scriptures and/or heritage except Christianity? Okay, maybe not every major religion, I really don’t know that, but I know at least orthodox Jews and Muslims do. Yet for Christians, not only is it not expected, it’s considered almost strange. Most people I’ve talked to seem to think that they don’t even have the capability to learn Hebrew and Greek, and they think it’s odd that I want to learn. Yet millions of people of other faiths around the world learn and incorporate heavily their “holy languages,” so to speak, into their everyday faith and corporate worship. I’m not saying we need to make it a requirement or something, but why is it so uncommon? Why is it viewed as so odd? Why can only the scholars, intellectuals, and a few pastors learn?

But while that was an interesting thought, and one I’d like answers to, even more important were a few other thoughts I had. The second thought that went through my mind upon conclusion of the show was, “If someone else was to spend 30 days with a Christian family and community, what would it look like?” That thought struck me, and I’m sitting here trying really hard to come up with something, and all I can think of is, “We go sing some songs on Sunday and listen to a guy yak, and then maybe do something else on Wednesday?” I am simply stunned at how much Christians look and act and live exactly like everyone else. That’s not necessarily a negative or positive thing in and of itself, because part of the reason it was so different for this guy to live with Muslims was because of the different rules and restrictions they place themselves under (the food codes, prayer 5 times a day, etc.). However, this then led me to my third thought, which was certainly more negative in nature.

Thought 3: I watched this show and I observed this Muslim community in action, their dedication and self-discipline, and I thought, “And we can’t read our Bible’s every day?” Though we don’t have regulations such as Muslims or Jews, that doesn’t mean that we should neglect spiritual disciplines. Instead, because of our “Christian freedom”, we are just lazy (and sometimes, myself included). Granted, it’s hard to tell what something is really like from watching a TV show, so I have to take what I saw with a grain of salt. But at the same time, it still begs the question of why Christians can hardly find the time to read, let alone study, their Bibles. Why we find it hard to pray daily. To become involved in church ministry. Why things like studying the languages are so foreign to us. It’s like, for most Christians, the whole of the Christian experience is wrapped up in attending church on Sunday. I mean, come on! Sometimes I wonder if we make it too easy. Not saying we should impose strict food diets on people or say they should pray in a certain direction, but at the same time, it’s almost as if by showing people the free gift of salvation, we’re also saying, “and you never have to worry about your faith again!” At least, if you look at the Church in America, that’s what we seem to be saying to people, because that’s what it sure looks like.

Somehow, we’ve got to become more devout. We need to take our faith seriously. This isn’t just some game, some free pass to heaven. I mean, by choosing a faith, you are choosing a god! That’s a serious thing! And yet we don’t seem to treat it that way.

Once again, I am just humiliated, and frustrated, at what Christianity has become in the West.

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