What is it that makes Christianity (especially American Christianity) so susceptible to sameness? I just spent a week working in the inner city of Memphis (more personal reflections at Wardrobe Door). I could truly be a life changing event, but I find myself and many other who ministered with me already falling back into old patterns, living life like nothing ever happened. I hate the same ol’ same ol’ and I think Jesus does, too.
Why else would He say that He has come to give us not just life, but life “more adundantly?”
Why else would He grow so weary of traditions replacing worship that He overturned tables in the temple in a holy rage?
Is it any wonder that Non-Christians see us and see no reason to want what we have? It looks very familiar. It looks just like what they have. It looks just like any other religion.
We have what my friend has dubbed “weak Christianity.” The family faith gets passed down from generation to generation with no one ever really doing anything of purpose or meaning just attending services and being a “good person.”
In my opinion, this is what lead to the virtual death of Christianity in Western Europe. It became ritual religion, traditions void of any meaning or relevance for daily life. Why should young people go to church when the old people go, put on a nice show and then cuss them out on their way home from the church building?
America is on the verge of crossing that line. Our Christianity is getting weaker and weaker. We have all the rituals down pat. We can sing hymns and praise choruses with the best of them. We can say all the right words at the right time to impress the right people, but it means nothing to us on Monday through Saturday.
What is the cure for the same ol’ same ol’? What can we do to wake up the sleeping Church in America? I can think of only one thing that can jar a complacent, apathetic, lethargic, egotistical, satisfied person from their perch back to reality – a face to face meeting with a holy God.
The ministry of Isaiah the prophet was forever changed when he saw God. He understood his own sinfulness, the sinfulness around him, but he also understood the holiness of God and the devotion that He required. He was a changed man after that encounter.
Isaiah was ready because all of his human resources had been taken away from him. In chapter 6 of Isaiah, which details the famous meeting, we read that King Uzziah had died. Uzziah was one of the few good kinds in the history of the nation of Israel (they were even more rare when Uzziah was around as the nation had split into Judah and Israel). Maybe Isaiah was relying too heavily on Uzziah’s positive influence. Maybe he thought they could change hearts through political reform (sound familiar?). Whatever the reason, God would not reveal Himself to Isaiah until Isaiah was emptied of every other resource to which he had been clinging.
Revival is breaking out in many nations across this world because the Christians have no one else to turn to for help. The saying goes, “The Church is watered by the blood of the saints.” Where there is persecution of Christians is where you see the most growth because people witness strong Christianity, true Christianity. They see people who are rejoicing over chains and shackles. They see people love the same murderers that tortured and killed their families. They see Jesus, not a watered down, commercialized North American Jesus.
I hate same ol’ same ol’ and I don’t want to be a part of it.