It’s been quite awhile since I took time to write anything here. My apologies to my ‘followers’. And even this entry will be more random recording of thoughts as they come than anything succinct and thought out. As I look back over the last year or two, it seems that there has been a migration going on within me. A migration of my beliefs, my understanding, of what it means to be a Christian. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not talking about core doctrines here. Jesus is God, the Bible is the authoritative word of God, redemption from sin come through Christ’s death and resurrection, to be truly Christian is to be cleansed of sin and have your spirit brought to life by the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ… all these I strongly affirm. The understanding that seems to be going through a metamorphasis has to do more with the Evangelical church’s definition of what a Christian looks like, sounds like and/or behaves. I have always tried to keep my mind and heart open to the fact that not all people in the Christian community view things with the same perspective that is widely held and taught within the Evangelical community (which I will refer to as EC in the remainder of this blog). If you are uncertain what types of things I’m referring to, I’ll try to give a very limited general description of what I’ve come to understand as the EC view of what a ‘Christian’ looks like. A person who has recognized his sinfulness and has had a ‘salvation experience’ in which he repented of his sin, asked for forgiveness and committed himself to be obedient to God’s will. He attends church regularly (preferably involved beyond just attending Sunday mornings)and has been or will be baptized (dunked under water if at all possible). This person will need to read his Bible regularly (daily is the recommended requirement), communicate with God through prayer (talking to him either verbally or through your thoughts) about life, particularly decisions of magnitude and will also attempt to ‘share his faith’ or ‘witness’ for the purpose of letting others know the ‘Good News, Gospel’ proclaimed in the Bible so that they may also ‘be saved’ from eternal judgment for their sins and live a much better life with God’s help. Some additional sidelines that have differing depths of fervor and agreement attached to them within the EC would be the do nots: Do Not have an abortion or participate in sex outside of marriage, do not use curse words (at least not in front of the pastor or in the church building)do not divorce, do not steal, lie or kill (without proper justification). As by no means exhaustive and the do not smoke or drink alchohol could be tacked on as well except that it is not as widely adhered to as it once was.
So what has or is changing for me in this regard? As I have met and read the writings of many people during this last year I have met many who do not buy into this EC package. They often are not so overt in their evangelism, if conscious of it at all. They’re less focused on the do nots and more focused on positive people orientated living; their ongoing relationship with God tends be much more experiential and personally based than communal, making them less dependent on the ‘church’ to define how their faith should be lived out. The other things I’ve noticed is less of the ‘us vs. them’ attitude that is so prevalent in the EC. “We” need to share “our” faith with “them”. “We” need to pray for our city so that “they” will get saved. “We” don’t get invited to “their” parties. “We” need to show “them” the love of Christ. Those are the things you hear in the EC. Without realizing it, I’m sure, all these things foster a seperatist and prideful attitude, a tribal mentality. “We” buy ‘Christian’ books, music, T-shirts and movies.
Hmmm. Tribal. That’s the word I’ve been looking for. Tribal loyalty instead Kingdom loyalty. I’ll have to ponder that a little more.