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Christians Can’t DO Anything? Wrong!

December 1st, 2010

Was talking with an older man recently who was bemoaning the fact there is nothing for Christians to do. "It’s a problem now, it was a problem when I was a kid, it’s always been a problem. If you can’t watch movies, can’t dance, can’t do anything bad, what can you do?" There was a hint of tongue-in-cheek in his tone, but candor as well. He added that at least we have board games to save us from boredom.  No pun intended.

I see this as a common theme among Christian circles. I call it, “The No Syndrome.” No, we can’t listen to this or watch that; and shouldn’t lie, cheat, or steal; nor cuss, smoke, or drink; nor chew, yell, or go to the show; nor get mad, visit the bad part of town, associate with non-believers or even eat too many sweets. Sometimes Christians scratch their heads wondering, “What was it again we CAN do?”

Seems like the local church often comes up short on vision here… Because there is so much we can do!! And no, it’s not sitting in a white room eating vegetables trying not to think bad thoughts.  The work we get to do is among the most exciting a human ever has the opportunity to participate in: being apart of Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

We never need to stoop to worldliness (which we all know) but we also never need to stoop to copycatting worldliness (the tactic mainstream American Christianity has unfortunately swallowed, hook, line, and sinker).

Regarding this whole issue, I recently heard a Christian man use an analogy from sports. He said, "We need both a good defense and a strong offense." His point was we can at times be all defense (fighting the world, flesh, and the devil in our lives) with no offense (fighting the world, flesh, and the devil in our culture).  Not that bending to an extreme in offense is the answer either: balance is key.

This sports analogy begs the question, “What does an offense look like?” As I observe those who appear to be playing offense, I see among the more radical people a tendency to get carried away fighting injustices to the exclusion of making disciples (Shane Claiborne comes to mind, I’m planning to review his book Friday). Seems to me when we help people physically without sharing the gospel we’re merely making them comfortable on their way to hell, where they’ll get plenty uncomfortable again.

Others lean towards gospel work (tract distribution) as the answer. Surely this is the perfect activity for our youth? And not to say street evangelism isn’t valuable and has its place, but it’s also the type of seed the devil frequently snatches away because they don’t understand (Matthew 13:19).  This is especially true with Internationals. I hate being pessimistic, but am speaking from my own experience.

Others think offense means starting programs, recruiting people into programs, and propping up programs. Programs are wonderful so long as everyone realizes they’re the structure for relationships. Programs are the bones; relationships are the meat. They both need heart (love).

So if it’s not all about fighting injustice, handing out tracts, or plugging bodies into programs (as important as all these are), “Where then should we start?”

After much thought, here’s my suggestion… well, maybe I’ll save it for my next post!

3 Responses to “Christians Can’t DO Anything? Wrong!”

  1. Kara Dekker Says:

    On the subject of Christianity being a series of don’ts, here’s a quote from Chesterton: “Virtue is not the absence of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell. Mercy does not mean not being cruel, or sparing people revenge or punishment; it means a plain and positive thing like the sun, which one has either seen or not seen.”

    The whole essay (one of my favourites) can be found here: http://www.chesterton.org/gkc/essayist/chalk.htm

    Glad to stumble across your blog (thanks to FB). Greetings from down under. :)

    Kara Dekker

  2. Luke Says:

    Interesting post Nick. Funny how the perspectives work out on different sides of the fence. As a non-Christian, I’ve often thought: “What are all the things I enjoy doing now, that I would have to give up if I became a Christian?” The answer is, scant little. Maybe I am not very imaginative… but it seems to me things like lying, cheating, stealing, murdering people and all the rest, pretty much gets you in trouble no matter who you are. Irregardless of God, I’d like to keep my job, keep my wife, keep my reputation, etc… All this requires adhering to social norms and yes, outright rules and laws. Of course, a guy can do whatever he wants – but the consequences are usually unpleasant unless you act like a decent fellow generally.

    Maybe if I were single there would be more activities to give up. But being married you pretty much are under every rule in the book anyway, so Christianity never seemed to me to add much in the way of new restrictions.

    As to the other question: “What am I enjoying NOT doing now, that I would have to start doing, if I became a Christian?” – now that is where the real difference lies. I’d have to give my money away, minister to people in Africa, try not to fall asleep before praying at night, read the Bible every day, spend Sunday mornings at Church and the rest of my free time starting up programs, join Facebook, gouge my eyes out, vote Republican, etc, etc…

    Like your friend, I am being somewhat tongue-in-cheek… but from this brambly hillock, I’d say you’re right to phrase the question more in terms of what Christians can do, than can’t.

  3. Nick Says:

    Kara: ‘anks fare sharing that lank, mate! :-) I’m glad you lobbed in. I see they got the internet hooked up down in Australia now. Good show.

    Lukey: I’m pleased you found something of interest in my rambling soliloquy. I appreciate your insights, thanks for commenting. You’re brave!

    There’s irony in the list of things you mentioned Christians should do. Like giving our money away: it’s true Jesus said that we should, but who does? Or attending church each Sunday morning: it’s sad how we’re oft known more for this weekly pilgrimage to a building (and the internal conflicts which ensue there) than for genuine community throughout the week, or for demonstrating agape love to all people as Jesus taught. I guess I’d hope you wouldn’t judge Christianity by the hypocrisy of us Christians. Which I know you don’t.

    Did you read the essay Kara linked to, “A Piece of Chalk?” I did, and liked it, and think you would too. It was different from what I was expecting. Indeed, it was the type of piece I can envision you having composed yourself.

    Let me add there is at least one opportunity a believer has which a nonbeliever does not, and I think any human would find exciting and fulfilling. That is, to become personally acquainted with the God Almighty, creator of the universe: To know him and experience his working in ones life; to be a temple of his Spirit and have ones desires transformed from the inside out; to gain his peace in the present and a hope for the future.

    Sounds flowery and cliché I know, but this has been my experience, even when the relationship hasn’t always been a cake-walk. Regarding that, I’ll stand with Job in saying, “Thou he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”

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