Christian Discouragement

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   November 2, 2014

                                   

Philip Yancey’s new book Vanishing Grace begins with the bad news about the good news. The cultural view of Christians is not good. He uses a recent survey of 18,000 people from all over the world to share what is hard to hear. The question was asked “Is religion a force for good?” In total, 52% of those surveyed judged that religion does more harm than good.

Wow!

How did we get to a point where more people would be glad for religious beliefs to take a break…a long break?

It took a while…but we managed to get there!

Yancey recalls an article that Tim Stafford wrote for Christianity Today magazine a few years ago where Stafford, using biblical times parallels, said that Christians in America often think they are like the Jewish people taken in captivity to Babylon, living in a culture that trumpets values that are against their faith. Stafford makes the point that Christians in our country  are more like Samaritans living right beside the Jews and not getting along. In other words, sometimes Christians are polarized from non-Christians because we can’t get along. We are prone to use spiritual language to describe it, like “spiritual”, “holy”, “holy people of God”, “morally upright”, and other terms that show that we are godly, but we also seem to enjoy being in one corner and our culture in the other corner…and never the two shall meet unless we’re ready to jab and punch.

The separation, whether we like to admit it or not, often makes us look snooty and Pharisaic.

Many will disagree with me, and I’m okay with that, but could it be that instead of Christians isolating themselves in a desperate attempt to obediently follow Christ that disciples should instead take a few steps towards our culture. That does not mean that we become accepting of beliefs and lifestyles that we don’t agree with. It simply means that we are open to listening and slow to our race to judgment. I refer back to Yancey again. He makes this statement that I’ve underlined with a yellow highlighter on my iPad:

“It takes no grace to relate to someone who looks, thinks, and acts like me.”

     Of course, I entitled this post “Christian Discouragement.” That’s because I see a lot of discouraged Christians and a lot of depressed churches. Joy seems to have fled to the mountains for the weekend. I’m optimistic that it will return and find new lodging in our sanctuaries, communities of faith, and pilgrim journeys.

The good news can be seen again as good news for all…that God loves each and every one of us no matter whether we have requested it, denied it, avoided it, or…yes, it can happen…accepted it with tears of thanksgiving.

It’s funny! The older I get the more I seem to write about grace. I think there’s a key there, perhaps a revelation, that it marks the road between discouraged and encouraged.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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One Comment on “Christian Discouragement”

  1. clara.mcmahon.morgan@gmail.com Says:

    Amen! Another winner. While we inhabit earth, it really can’t be us and them. One one basic level, it is all us and God.

    Christian Century has an interesting piece on marriage this month written by a prominent Theologian. He calls for a new look at Paul’s “burn” passage.

    http://www.christiancentury.org/contributor/gerald-w-schlabach

    Next time you are in Fl, let’s get together!

    Clara

    Clara Morgan 727.249.4568

    >


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