I got a ‘catch 22’ deal with my wife. After her becoming a follower of Christ, Christian, however else you’d like to describe it; she quickly filled the role of what I had missed at my time in college.
Now, I do say that with some tongue and cheek. It can be frustrating between our two personalities because we do see the world in completely different lights. She sees the people of the world as meaning well with good intentions. On the other hand I view the world, and much of the American Church, as people who’ll say good things…but absolutely mean little along the spiritual confines of reality.
It makes faith a hot-button topic at times in the household. Last night was no exception while we were heading to dinner. I listen to EDM [electronic dance music] nearly 24/7. I have for years, lyrics tend to drive me nuts, and I love computer generated, synthesized beats; I’m also obsessed with deep bass. I used to be the kid that had all the CD’s to dc Talk, Third Day, Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, POD, Relient K, Pillar, Skillet, Kutless, etc…
I proudly wore my ‘faith based’ t-shirts to school with the same style of jeans every day while I was in high school. I didn’t know trendy music, I just knew what one specific church body expected me to know.
Don’t ask questions.
Ignore Biblical truths.
I’ve written in this blog on several occasions that I’ve been given a million excuses to give up on God, give up on His plan, and just live my life. I’ve been informed that I have “reason” to be angry with God and demand more. Yet, even though I’m a complete screw-up, there are some things that I just can’t accept. Walking away from the only structure, foundation, strength that has stayed consistent within my life is one of them.
I can’t not be a Christian. It almost feels genetic [please, no theology debates on that comment]. I don’t know a different life, I don’t know a different world; I know that my heart hurts, aches, blazes, and consumes my every waking moment. It isn’t out of pride, it’s merely out of acceptance of my life, my projected path, my destiny. My life is nothing but an outward expression of my inner-faith. It’s an honor to be at work and for people, without me ‘preaching’, to automatically know that I go to church, that I’m “one of those people”. That’s a badge of courage I’d gladly accept.
What I won’t accept though…
Is becoming a member of an American Church.
Where God has never let me down; because that’s how He rolls, the churches within the United States, even in my small, minute world; have been the biggest letdown I’ve witnessed. It surpasses divorce, it surpasses cancer, it surpasses death…
I’m surrounded by a dying breed. I’m surrounded by the intent, option, and expectation to accept the world around me at face value. I’ve been shown that it isn’t wise to go against the grain, and that it is expected to stay within your own cliche. The truth is, the American Church is merely a bunch of high school cliches roaming around at lunch.
Darco and I don’t necessarily see face-to-face on this matter because we’re both equally passionate of where we stand [it’s also why we make such a strong, dynamic couple]. I feel the war torn years throughout the scars on my heart, and it isn’t from the sinful, heartless, lost world…it’s from spending years inside of toxic, religious [not Christian] establishments. It’s from accepting the poisons of false truth, and the searing agony of global acceptance among ‘the saints’.
I rebuke the American Church, I shield my eyes from the world that I grew up in. I am ashamed listening to the world proclaim to me what they’ve witnessed inside the American Church. It sickens me to see the masses that have walked away. The core of my generation, the “Millennial” group, cannot be found within 200 feet of a local church. Why? Because they had to wear slacks, and they had to dress correctly, they had to say the right things, buy the CD’s, go on the right church mission trips, and walk away from Pokemon cards and electronic dance music [personal experience for each of those examples]. Beer sent you to hell, and dancing was more dangerous than premarital sex itself.
THAT is the American Church.
“Become a member of our physical domain so we can expect your taxation to pay for our salary.”
Those are the voices I’ve heard and those are the sights that I’ve seen.
How can the “body of Christ” inside one country [by the way, God doesn’t really care about political boundaries], if they can’t get over their own pride? They can’t accept struggle, or even that their organ may need to be replaced?
Where is the next generation of the American Church?
The masses are running away, and refusing to look back.
So you know what? Taken from a few moments of my life, and a few good sermons [actually many], I’m going to encourage the following:
Go grab a beer. Turn up the music. And please get rid of that stupid fish on the back of your car that is looked at every time you flip off the driver to your right.
Don’t listen to world, but start listening to your heart. Read the burning inscription within your soul, and ask the real question:
How do you reach the world around you. How do you plan on explaining why you’re different versus the world.
How do you explain political parties? That you follow the government because it’s a Biblical truth? How do you apologize for your pride, and fall to your knees before a non-Christian when you’ve done them wrong?
When the American Church asks these questions, instead of aiming to form another committee…there will be hope. When worship is understood from a congregational standpoint, just as much from the lone runner out in the forest, to the person meditating as the sun goes down…there will be hope. When faith is used as a primary form of currency, instead of understanding the 501(c)3 principals of your interior coffee shop…there will be hope.
Do I mean hope, as in the hope for our faith? Our way of life? Christianity? No. Whether people enjoy admitting it or not, God’s a lot bigger than our churches, our country, and our pride. He can do His will with or without us. Pretty simple.
He also will ensure that the Church will always be here, and will always be active. That says nothing about the American Church.
“But D, you’re preaching so great…how are you going to back it up?”
Answer: I’m going to keep being exactly who I am without apology. I’m going to struggle to trust the American Church body, and I’m going to struggle at being a solid, faith bound husband and family leader. I’m going to apologize more than the dollar amount of my salary. However, I’m also going to be honest. I’m going to hold myself accountable to a Higher power. I’m not going to get caught up in the trivial garbage that’s consumed nearly 50% of my life already [13 years is close]. I’m going to continue to pray for and preach the unspoken thoughts of a lost generation. I’m going to dream of people my age coming back to the heart of worship [how’s that for a cheesy one liner], and I’m never going to give up on God. He never gave up on me, and He never will. At the very least I owe Him that much…at the very least I owe Him my life.