Jeff Clarke just wrote an interesting article about fake Christianity which is pervasive in the West.
He starts out: “If we want to connect with the world on our doorstep the Church must allow our collective experience of sadness to be our point of contact.” I’d venture that it is not just sadness and pain we need to be honest about. We need to be authentic in whatever state we Jesus followers find ourselves.
He says: ” The plastic, cheaply fabricated, celebrity-driven style of Christianity that has come to characterize a variety of churches in the West will never be able to effectively offer a healing response to the pain we carry within us and see around us.” I say Amen! Those outside see right through the veneer. They know something is up and we are not being honest. Drop the pose. Remove the facades. They are sin and so lets be honest and just admit that!!! Be real dear believer!
Clarke’s solution: “When we consciously integrate our lives with the person next door; when we allow ourselves the space to feel the depth of our own pain and loss, combined with the uncertainties we all experience; then and only then will we be in a position to effectively engage our world with an authentic, down-to-earth, real-life ministry of healing and restoration.” I like these thoughts. I do believe that much internal spiritual transformation is still needed in many who call themselves Jesus followers. The average Western Christian does not understand Jesus’ commands to take up a cross. We’ve had it too easy too long and we don’t know how to be authentic. There is so much group think in Christian circles.
Learning to embrace our pain
The Western church is largely unapproachable.
Are you approachable? I find myself in a hurried state and miss opportunities to engage other hurting people. We have to slow down and put the radar up for opportunities to support others. If we aren’t willing to do this, those opportunities just won’t come.
I’m becoming increasingly convinced that a celebrity mindset, combined with a love of the stage and performance, has not only disabled us from actually being able to minister to people, but has also made people feel like they can’t approach us because of the appearance of perfection we have so often communicated.
I believe Clarke is going after the large churches with following around the country and maybe some multi-site churches whose engagement to put on a show and even entertain for an hour or so. We have to watch that the meetings are not make for TV, rather made for worship of Jesus and believer enrichment.
Clarke next comes up with some very classic “I’m Tired.” statement which are worth replicating here:
I’m tired of being forced to smile on the outside in an attempt to look the part, instead of giving myself the space to be vulnerable enough to express how I truly feel on the inside.
I’m tired of a plastic Christianity that tells us to wear a cookie-cutter, permanent smile, with veneers showing, to give the appearance that ‘all is well,’ when in reality we’re all tired, wishing we could just talk to someone about our pain.
I’m tired of Ken and Barbie pastors who love the stage and the bright lights, who love to talk about healing and restoration, but who lack the authenticity and depth to actually do anything about it; who minister ‘from a distance,’ rather than become intimately involved in the mess of the common.
I’m just tired. And, I think you are too.
Then, “I want:”
I want the Church to grow into a genuinely caring community who aren’t afraid to be real and honest about their faults, failures, pain, questions and doubts.
I want the veneered Christianity we’ve become so comfortable with to quickly dissolve and to finally be honest with ourselves about how far removed we are from real-life, down-to-earth, biblical Christianity.
I want the Church to become forever dissatisfied with plastic Christianity and intentionally seek to replace it with a Jesus-centered, Jesus-shaped Gospel that allows love, humility and grace to inform and shape its identity and expression so that we can reach out to a world in pain with a message of hope, healing and restoration – and mean it.
And, I want Jesus to take center stage so that the spotlight will shine upon Him, and through Him, to the Church that bears His name, unto a world waiting for us to finally begin to show our true colors.
I have to agree Mr. Clarke. So much the Western church needs to put away and forsake. So much more also that we need to take up and put on. We have a great model in a great Savior and more more we study Him and follow Him the better we will be.