Monday, February 25, 2013

Talking to Myself (Part 2)

I want to continue to critique hypothetical Matthew's note "Why I'm Not a Christian." That Matt made three arguments against Christianity (little unity, little joy, little fruit). A few days ago I responded to his claim that Christians are not unified. Today I want to respond to his claim that Christians are not joyful. Here's what he said:

Second, I can't believe in Christianity because I'm not even sure THEY believe in it! Supposedly, their God became flesh... died for all their sins... and rose from the dead (promising them eternal life!). But whenever I visit a church, they seem pretty subdued. And I don't mean they should be jumping on their pews... but at least have a sparkle in your eye, eh? Something isn't right here. Either Jesus rose from the dead or He didn't. Either God has done something that changes everything or He hasn't. If He has, why is church so boring? If he hasn't... well, I must conclude that he hasn't if I'm basing it off of what I see from the 'church.' More often than not it just seems like another human club.

The problem here, I think, is that hypothetical Matthew judged the church as joyless due to his Sunday morning experience alone. In his defense, if the churches he visited really were TOTALLY dead... cold... institutionalized... then I understand why he came to the conclusion that he did. But I'm guessing that within those churches there were, at least, some pockets of joy. Did Matthew expect that every person present on Sunday morning was truly following Jesus and experiencing the joy of knowing him? Shouldn't the fact that Matthew himself was present have tipped him off to the fact that Sunday morning is a pretty mixed mess of people?

Even if there were only a few pockets of joy in the midst of the congregation, he should have reached into those pockets to see if he could find something of value. If Matthew wanted to know what it was like to be a professional football player, it wouldn't have been enough to watch a game on TV. It wouldn't have been enough to go to a game. It wouldn't have been enough to stand on the sideline. To begin to understand what it's like, Matthew would have to spend some time with actual football players (not just on Sunday, but throughout the week when they are... practicing). And to finally understand what it's like to be a professional football player, Matthew would have to become one.

If hypothetical Matthew would take the time to immerse himself in the lives of some people who are dedicated to Jesus, I am confident he would find true joy. He would find peace that passes understanding. He would find strength that doesn't make sense. He would find vitality and vigor. He would find resurrection power. He would find love without limits.

All that being said, I am sometimes afraid that hypothetical Matthew might fail to find such people. Are there enough pockets of joy? Jesus once asked... "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" I wonder, when hypothetical Matthew comes... will he find faith in the church?

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