Monday, May 13, 2013

Exploring Plastic Christianity

The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed. ~John Wesley

It started like a sleepy morning rollover after hitting the snooze button that would soon bring me back to my slumber and be forgotten. Instead of being that fleeting, illogical, surrealist thought flaring up in my mind so easily and quickly snuffed out, it quietly whispered "that's it" thunderously within my spirit.

It was a typical Friday morning with me functioning on just four hours sleep. My daughter had fed the cats and eaten her breakfast. I had started devotions with her and had to remind her to stop playing with her new tablet that had arrived just yesterday. She still had to brush her teeth, clean the guest bathroom, and start her lessons for the day. While she began those things, I listened to music on a Christian radio station, began putting the ingredients in my VitaMix for my morning smoothie, and planning the day since my husband will not be home this weekend.

The music had stopped and there was some talking on radio to which I was only half listening. Isn't it amazing how God can suddenly give you wake-up moment? That is when I realized that the man speaking was comparing plastic fruit to Christianity, but I was just as quickly distracted by other things and did not really hear the short message. Still, the idea seed rooted and as I began to explore this concept in greater depth, more and more analogies sprouted.

I realized in just the first three minutes that this was not going to be a single post subject. In fact, the idea of a book flashed in my mind and then I felt it. You know the it I am talking about when some crazy idea comes into your head that is entertaining yet you would likely dismiss as ridiculous or impossible, but then you feel as if the Lord says a simple "yes." My eyes immediately teared and I felt so pressed to begin writing that at this very moment I am sitting at my dining room table typing on my computer while I have half of the ingredients for my morning smoothie are in the VitaMix on the kitchen counter and my stomach is growling.

I suddenly had this strong feeling that this is where my Lord has been leading me. It has been gentle guidance using all sorts of resources: a pastor friend from Australia who Skyped me at 1:00 AM when I was checking something on my computer that I really did not need to do until morning, a street healer who I have not met but have been touched by his powerful ministry from what I have seen online, my life experiences within various churches, sermons I have heard, books I have read, stories shared with me, and now an analogy I just heard on the radio about plastic food—Food? Excuse me, but I really need to my breakfast drink!

Plastic food can have the most appealing appearance but that is all for which it is: appearance. It has no substance other than pleasing the eyes. It is not just empty, but artificial. It is not real, but synthetic. It is not something that nourishes, but leaves the hungry person unsatisfied.

Many churches have become plastic churches, where Christians have learned how to appear like Christian Barbie and Ken dolls with cheek cramping smiles sitting in their assigned pews. I know this very well. I was part of it. I helped to build and maintain it even while at war within myself. I wanted the entire church to look Christian, but I had also worked with youth. Some teenagers actually believe and put into practice that everyone needs Christ, inviting friends with funky hair or tattoos or piercings or heavy make up. I accepted them—uh, perhaps tolerate would be a more honest term because in my heart I also wanted them to eventually look more Christian like the rest of us. Worse, may God forgive me, I judged these to be lower than I was because I at least bothered to look Christian.

Plastic churches provide rules of conformity...to help everyone appear more Christian, even more Christian in some way or another than the other plastic churches. Some churches shun beautiful contemporary praise and worship music, because only hymns are the holy enough...and maybe some Southern Gospel for the special music. Some tell us that the King James Version is the only real Bible and all other translations are corrupted, even though reading the KJV for most people is like learning another language because it is so archaic in terms. Just how did Christians go from believing the hymns were more holy than the psalms that are in the Bible or the KJV is more holy than reading the Holy Scriptures in their original languages or that men wearing pants and women dresses more holy that the robes that the people in the time of Jesus would have worn?

Have you noticed that a little judging and even a little gossip are allowed about those not looking like Christian Barbie and Ken dolls with cheek cramping smiles? I have been a builder and maintainer of plastic churches. I even look down on people who did not appear Christian enough. I am so free of it that writing this confession does not bring shame, but makes me rejoice in my spirit because I am honestly free of it now. Thank you, my Lord.

Plastic Christianity can have the most appealing appearance but that is all for which it is: appearance. It has no substance other than pleasing other plastic Christians. It is not just empty, but artificial. It is not real, but synthetic. It is not something that nourishes, but leaves the soul hungry person unsatisfied.

~ My Lord, may those who need to hear, hear. Teach us to surrender all so that we can have substance, be filled with Your Holy Spirit, be real, and be nourishing in Your eyes. ~

2 comments:

  1. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:17~18

    Dunamis. Where there spirit is there is the power of God ~ & it doesn't look like most of our churches. It's what sent me searching. What I saw & what I read did not match up ~ which is what happens when a. people don't know what their bible says or b. they know what it says but don't really believe it's true or c. know what it says but choose to disobey anyway.

    Abba's ways may not always be comfortable but He is never ever dull ~ as so many of our churches are. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matthew 9
    36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”

    They do not even know how dispirited they are. They rather stay in the fold as sheep. I was one of them, but now I choose to be sent out as a worker, to accept the Shepherd's call for me.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.