Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Faith-Life Disconnect

One main purpose of this blog is to inspire readers to put their faith into action.

Our Lord says:

If you love Me, keep My commandments….If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14.15,23)

Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep. (John 21.15-15)

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25.31-46)

In a recent article (http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/7053/9/) Jim Denison calls us out as Christians. He asks, “If Christians are so engaged in our culture, why is our culture in the shape it's in?” This question SHOULD hit us right between the eyes as Christians. I believe our society has long since gone off the deep end when it comes to Christians living their Christianity, but I can’t really blame the average believer. The fault lies partly with those who call themselves (and I include myself here) Clergy/Pastors.

American Christianity has become more selfish and more pleasure driven over the years. Church attendance has become ‘where we feel comfortable’ vs. where we are formed by the Church into how God wants us to live. As Saint Paul asks, “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" (Romans 9.20) YET! Every day in Churches throughout the world, we hear statements like, “Well, God made me this way,” or “I’m not a saint, you can’t expect me to live that way,” or “If I use those sorts of ethics in my business, I’ll lose all my customers.” Christianity has become an institution where surveys and needs assessments govern ministries and policies rather than the Gospel.

In a recent poll, (http://www.barna.org/congregations-articles/556-what-people-experience-in-churches#.Tws3ZHWykFc.facebook) it is said that fewer than 50% of Church attendees (those who actually attend Church on a somewhat regular basis) believe that Church actually effects their lives greatly. I don’t see why this should be a surprise when just about every trend in society makes its way into the Church from worship styles to moral ethics. If today’s trend is for rock-n-roll praise bands playing for gay marriage receptions, then tomorrow is likely to be séances at funerals. Let’s face it, most Christians don’t allow the Gospel, let alone the Church, to guide them in their daily lives, and then complain that a disconnect exists between church and life.

Orthodox Christianity is about shaping our lives to conform to the Lord. In 2012 America, with teachings such as the Prosperity Gospel and an overall attitude of “since this is how I was made, it must be ok,” we will more and more be viewed as counter culture. But to this I invoke the words of the great Saint Paul when he challenged the Romans, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12.2) And he said this as a challenge to how a Christian ought to be living after Baptism.

How are you living daily life? Does your faith in Jesus Christ affect the way you live your life? If it doesn’t, consider stopping by an Orthodox Church and discover the ancient Christian Church. Orthodoxy is a way of life….not just a doctrine. You won’t find perfect people, but you will find the Truth.

No comments: