15 March 2010

Quote for Today

"All glory and growth were given to you, and then that which is written was fulfilled: 'My beloved ate and drank and was enlarged and grew fat and kicked,' From this came jealousy and envy, strife and sedition, persecution and anarchy, war and captivity. So people were stirred up: those without honor against the honored, those of no repute against the highly reputed, the foolish against the wise, the young against the old. For this reason righteousness and peace stand at a distance, while each one has abandoned the fear of God and become nearly blind with respect to faith in him, neither walking according to the laws of his commandments nor living in accordance with his duty toward Christ. Instead, all follow the lusts of their evil heart, inasmuch as they have assumed that attitude of unrighteous and ungodly jealousy through which, in fact, death entered into the world."
- 1 Clement 3:1-4

What a stunning indictment against the first-century church of Corinth, to which Clement writes from the church of Rome. The letters of Clement are not in the Bible, but they are real and historical and written to address real problems in the Corinthian church. In some ways, what Clement said of the church in Corinth is true of the church in America (and not just the part about being fat). Some questions for American Christians to ponder:
  • Have we become so self-sufficient (through wealth, success, peace, etc.) that we are "nearly blind with respect to faith in [God]"?
  • Are you jealous of other Christians' (or other churches') success?
  • Do we even know these days what it means to fear God?
  • We talk at great length about how we dislike so much of the culture around us. Why is it true, then, as Philip Yancey says, that "all too often the church holds up a mirror reflecting back the society around it, rather than a window revealing a different way"?
Not every church or Christian is this way. But many of us are truly unaware of how much our culture has negatively shaped American Christianity. This is one area to which I have been giving some thought lately, partly because I am teaching a lesson on this very subject later this year, and partly because I just sense the problem through my experiences and my own life. I don't have many answers yet, but this is as good a place as any to begin thinking out loud on it.

For my Christian readers, your input is greatly appreciated. In what ways is American Christianity negatively affected by culture? Examples would be great.

For my non-Christian readers, just know that not every Christian blindly accepts what their preachers tell them; many sense that things could be better/kinder/more welcoming/less hateful for folks like you who would love to go to church if it weren't for the people inside.

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