Just Trying to Get By

When I read Scripture I see the passion of those who follow Christ. I see that their faith is crucial to their life. It is not the thing they need to “try” at, but the thing that gives them the strength to “try” at the rest of life. I see this same thing among many believers throughout history. This was one of the biggest things I noticed when I read through the Bonhoeffer biography I just finished, Bonhoeffer didn’t have to “try” to care about his faith. His faith is what enabled him to deal with everything else in life. You see this same thing in The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom saw Christ and her relationship with him as the thing that would enable her to act bravely in love for those in need, and endure the incredible hardships that she faced as a result of those activities.

When you gather on an average Sunday in an average church you will most likely hear a sermon encouraging you to care about your faith. It may be a sermon telling you to read your Bible more, or asking you why you don’t get as excited about Jesus as you do about football or telling you that if you really love Jesus you will have a spirit of giving or a million other things that I would label in the category of “trying to get by.” What I mean by that is that Christians today spend so much time just trying to care about what they believe that the faith itself is what becomes the struggle, not the answer to the struggles of life. Is this because we are so comfortable? I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but honestly I can’t say for sure why it is this way.

I am tired of constantly being encouraged to rededicate my life or recommit myself to following Christ. When we have to spend all our time trying to care about our supposed “beliefs” I wonder if we really believe them at all.

Of course we all struggle in many ways. I am no exception to that rule. I could even go so far as to say I personify that rule, but there is a fundamental difference between starting at your faith to help you overcome the struggles in your heart and life, and that faith being the very thing you struggle to care about.

What do you think? Am I overstating something that is nothing more than the normal struggle of Christians throughout history, or is there something very different about the way we approach our faith today, in the comforts of America, as opposed to those who have come before us, many of which faced severe persecution and struggled for their very survival?

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

7 responses to “Just Trying to Get By

  • Arthur Sido

    I think somethign Alan said when he retweeted might be relevant. He said Perhaps because they’re trying to disciple those who don’t care?. I think a lot of what goes on from pulpits and Christian events is trying to encourage people who aren’t Christians to act like Christians. Those who are Christians are so desperate for real community and the lack of it creates apathy. It is hard to not be apathetic about your faith when it consists of a couple hours of listening to other people talk on Sundays.

  • Alan Knox

    Dan and Arthur,

    I think what Arthur said is important. Many churches spend most of their time, energy, and money trying to convince people who are supposedly already believers to be discipled. We should certainly always offer people opportunities to receive Christ and to grow in Christ, but we can’t disciple people who are apathetic. Instead, we should spend most of our time, money, and energy making disciples of people who actually want to grow in maturity. These are the people who are usually left in immaturity because the church is focused on the apathetic.

    -Alan

  • Dan Allen

    I think you are both on to a good point here, and it is something I alluded to in the post when I said “When we have to spend all our time trying to care about our supposed ‘beliefs’ I wonder if we really believe them at all.” If people are not interested in growing in their faith, if they struggle just to care, then it leaves you wondering how genuine their faith is, and the scary thing is that they might not be trying to fake. It seems that American churches are producing a lot of people who look like Christians, but may not actually be, and worse yet, those same churches may have convinced those people that they are Christians.

  • cindy

    Hm. “…because the church is focused on the apathetic.” And perhaps even further… works to convince the apathetic that activity is equal to discipleship..?

    I work part time in a church. I’ve come to see it as serving the people of the church, but not really serving God. I serve God the rest of the week. Maybe. But on Sundays, er, not so much. However, I do practice my faith in action on Sundays by learning to love and speak kindly in an environment that is nearly hostile to radical discipleship.

    • Dan Allen

      Cindy

      Thanks for stopping by the blog, and sharing your thoughts on this topic. I think you make a couple really good points. First, that many times the church tries to equate activity with discipleship. Second, that the average Sunday morning church environment is very contradictory to radical discipleship. I wonder if radical discipleship happened if the number of “Christians” out there would dramatically decrease?

      Thanks again for the comment!

      Dan

  • Mark

    Dan,

    I think the thought processes expressed above are definitely legit, as I believe our church buildings are full of a lot of people who have no clue who Christ really was, mixed in with some who are “apathetic”, and then some who are truly passionate. Your post really describes me in my younger years, because I was so busy trying to “be a good Christian” that I became frustrated. There was this undertone of superiority in the churches I attended, where certain people were held up as examples of being a “good Christian”, and the rest of us followed after, panting like dogs, trying to live up to that. Ironically, the example offered up was not one of love and selfless service to others. The result for me, interestingly enough given some of your previous posts, was depression, which affected my life for many years, until I found truth, and began basing my faith on Christ Himself, at which time I began to slowly grow out of my depression.

    In my case I truly was passionate. I truly desired God: to serve Him, to do His will, to be found in Him. Unfortunately, I had not idea what any of those things meant, and the counterfeit I was given just never satisfied me, obviously. The pinnacle, and best example, of this for me was the laughter movement. I was exposed to this in high school, and then later as a freshman in college. After moving home the church I attended brought in some traveling “minister”, whose “gift” was in laughter. I sat in my seat, watching everyone around me being “touched by the Holy Spirit”, and just sat in my seat frustrated. “What is wrong with me?”, I would ask. “Why can I not receive?” “I must be doing this wrong, or I must be doing that wrong.” After leaving the organized church I looked back on those times and realized the grace of God at work. I truly believe that if I would have been able to “receive” in that manner that I never would have left the institution. As it was, the ‘failure’ to receive kept me looking for answers, and eventually the Lord got me on the right path. So, the sincerely frustrated do make up a certain percentage of those in ‘church’. They hunger after God but are stuck eating cardboard boxes (the Christian religion) when they could be feasting on steak (Christ Himself).

    Mark

  • Mark

    One more thought.

    Hebrews 4 talks about finding our rest in Christ, our Sabbath rest. I believe what you describe in your post is a failure to rest, or just exist. I love the truth of this, that I can JUST EXIST in Christ, without striving to make it all work. I now trust the seed of Christ in me, understanding that the work is already done, and He will lead me in the path of righteousness, as He is faithful even when I am faithless. Does this diminish my responsibility as a follower of Christ? No, it does not. In fact, it heightens it (a la the sermon on the mount). It just shifts the focus from doing something so I WILL BE righteous to doing something because I AM righteous, and have love for my savior. In the latter scenario the things I “do” are a natural outflowing of who He is in me, and who He has made me to be, and not my vain frustrated attempts to please Him.

    Mark

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