Welcome to How Not To Be A Christian
Go to any Christian bookstore, and you will find dozens of books covering various aspects on how to be a “good,” or “effective,” or “spiritual,” or “genuine” Christian. Many Christian oriented books (and thank our good Lord for those books,) serve their readers’ needs with positive suggestions and encouraging advice, often sprinkled with warm illustrations.
I aim to take out some of the sprinkle.
Paul says in his First letter to the Corinthians: “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you.” Today’s Christian has had way too much gentle accommodating and far too scarce warning, exhorting, and disrupting in their spiritual lives.
This blog explores how Christians through their actions, speak to a world that desperately needs their message, and how those actions are frequently found wanting.
Every day, average Christians go about their business, which is often painfully distinguished, from His business. We accumulate at work, indulge at home, and scornfully disdain in the public square.
How Not To Be A Christian’s purpose is to confront the current Christian culture through the sharing of everyday observations, perhaps in the workplace, the convenience store, even within the Church itself. It examines the everyday actions of Christians with the hope of injecting a needed dialogue into an all too often complacent Church. It is intended as a thorn from within, not an attack from without.
However, those outside the Church, both the searching as well as the skeptical, are welcome. Your input can further enlighten what the Church needs to hear. It is to you that we are ultimately speaking – help us to speak better!
I have three primary manners to express the message:
The relating of everyday anecdotes that may make you laugh or cringe.
Thought experiments that provoke inward considerations.
Historical cases in point
I hope you will find How Not To Be A Christian confrontational without being arrogantly judgmental, critical but not cynical. It strives to be a mirror held up and looked into.
You might object that a more accurate heading would be How Not To Act Like A Christian. But the question then raised would be where the difference lies in acting as a Christian, and being one.
A secular radio host once caught my attention by stating in the context of newsworthy Christian hypocrisy, “It’s easier to talk like a Christian than to be one.” His conclusion was a reaction to the Christian hypocrisy he observed daily. He pointed out that our actions speak to, if not establish who we are.
Though apocalyptic, God’s final message to us is ultimately one of a sure hope. That message, though, begins partly with harsh admonishment to His own children:
“You have forsaken the love you had at first.”
“Consider how far you have fallen.”
“You have a reputation for being alive, but are dead.”
These scathing words speak now, just as then, to how the world sees a Christian culture sometimes filled with self-interest, judgment, and hypocrisy.
Our actions are speaking to a world that desperately needs to hear a convincing message of hope. That message, they will follow. But that same message will ring hollow if we don’t back it with observable practice.
Now you might make the case that we can never get our actions perfectly right, and that is the whole point of grace. I get grace. In this present church age, grace permeates our lives, our churches, and our mindsets. Perhaps though, we are misusing grace as convenient weight to tip the balance away from accountability. A consideration — let’s welcome more accountability into the church, and offer more grace to the world.
To be clear, I have no formal training, no seminary education, no Th.D. As the need arises, I will try to bring a proper exegesis, but I anticipate times where clarification or correction is warranted, and I welcome it. Don’t think of this as overly well thought out (or even well written)—these are not theses, more like ramblings. This is a discussion — perhaps you can be persuasive. Don’t take my word for anything. I hope that all will bring the attitude of the Bereans who searched out the Scriptures for what was true.
And though individual topics might invite a more elevated dialogue, it will not distract from the purpose — a confrontation with a sometimes complacent attitude of the common Church.
Also, keep in mind that I am not a Doctor, Therapist, Lawyer, or Pastor. Please don’t consider any of my viewpoints as expert.
The perspective is Protestant and I invite non-Protestants to engage.
However, this is not a place for discourse on dogma, even though it is inevitable that dogma will enter. For how can we evaluate our actions without it?
There will be no attempt to cast the audience into a common mold, except when a common mold is scripturally mandated. I will present my case – you have to decide what to do about it.
If the tone at any time seems overbearing, don’t think I am above my own accounting. I value those who hold me accountable and I too fall short, so there is no arrogance here. Everyday, I observe my own actions, and also find them wanting. So this is a challenge to myself as well as the Church (to whom I belong.)
There may be times of stories, quotes, anecdotes, and jokes that I have taken in over the years and forgotten their source. I welcome any opportunity for acknowledgements.
And know that I realize the Church is filled with those individuals who are committed in belief and action. To those, God also says:
“I know your deeds, you hard work and you perseverance.”
“I know your afflictions and your poverty — yet you are rich!”
“Yet you remain true to my name.”