- Religion and Philosophy
Christian America - What Happened?
Pt 1 - Founding
Previously covered , the topic of "America is / isn't or was / wasn't a Christian Nation" and that will be the starting point for this writing. Also, many thanks to all who've contributed to this in the last couple of months wether they realized it or not, and to the History Channel and National Geographic channel for some history insight.
I recently served on "Jury Duty", doing my part as a citizen to uphold the "law of the land" as our constitution provides for it, I'd been summoned many times and even been "pooled" once prior, yet had never made it to a trial before. Like most people I'd considered it a blessing that way, as like most people, I saw jury duty as an inconveinience, it turned out to be a great experience and I highly recommend it to anyone eligible who gets the opportunity. The case itself was irrelevant, it was a waste of time and taxpayer money, I don't want to get into the specifics as thats not what this writing is about. The point is it was a foolish case, bad choices and decisions on both the parts of the plaintiff and defense. To make matters worse, none of the people who took the stand were fully believable, I wasn't alone in this feeling, it was prevelant throughout the whole jury.
I don't feel that there was any honor or respect for the law on either part and that carried through to the testimonies on the stand - the very testimonies that people had sworn their word on oath to God (yeah that surprised me too) (I didn't think they still used God in court). Now, the oath in and of itself, be it to God, or just ones word. At one time there was a basic semblence of honor and integrity here in America and that didn't seem to be there. I'm not so foolish as to think that there couldn't have been different perceptions of the events, but trust me, you had to be there - there was much dishonesty. So why? Well, it seems everyone was trying to cover their own tail, there were even public service workers in this, they were lying as well, and, theirs was a given as their stories SO didn't match up, add up, or even line up.
Where did it all go so wrong for America? Recently I was made aware of a study of democracies & republics, it seems they typically have a lifespan of about 200 years, hmm... I guess theres a pattern that happens. A "people" go from slavery, bondage & oppression to the "fight" for freedom, from freedom, to self sufficency, to eventual complacency, and or entitlement. Hmm... So, how does this all play out here in America today? And over our last 233 years? And what in the world does Chrisitianity have to do with it?
Our great nation was founded on Christian values, morals, laws & principles, you didn't need to be a Christian to be here, because, unlike other parts of the world we had freedom, you could practice the religion of your choice, or none at all. Now of course the great and vast majority of our Founding Fathers were men of great Faith and those few that weren't still agreed that the foundation of Christianity was a good foundation for America, as was a financial system of Capitalism. So now the "Stage is set" for a "New World".
Pt 2 - Grounding
So now America is founded, has fought for her freedoms and established herself as "One Nation Under God" and just like Israel thousands of years earlier is open to "others", people with whom we may not agree with spiritually, but recognize the Freedom to be different and all coexist. So many things about this nation show the rich history of God in it's founding and establishment. Living in Daytona Beach Florida I'd lost sight of much of this. You see, I'm in a "tourist town" where we cater to people on vacation. Their wants and desires need to be met 7 days a week, and I've been here for 27 or so years and had forgotten where I grew up and the differences in these communities.
Those differences being that on any given Sunday not every place of business is open, and yes this still exists in many areas and parts of America. Sunday is the Sabbath day and were to keep it Holy and rest, yes, I know, Saturday is really the Sabbath - but thats another topic. In many of the smaller towns in America not only is Sunday still a "shut down" day, Wednesdays are typically a "close-up early day. This allows people to get home early, rest, eat, clean up and get ready for Weds night Church.
Most early settlement towns were built around the Church, meaning it was the center of town, a central point for all the community attendees. The fact that there is little acknowledgement of the Sabbath for it's true purpose anymore doesn't eliminate the fact that it's still in place in many areas, and what it's purpose once was. Sadly, for so many, even so many believers, we've become so arrogant as to think that even though God Himself needed a day of rest, we don't, yet, we're created in His image.
In addition to established customs like the above, the imprint of Gods Words on so much of our Country, it's landmarks and even money show us where our founding was and what it was based on. At the menton of money we come to capitalism, the financial "way of life" chosen for the USA, was it new? Invented by America? Oddly no, I only recently found this out though. The system had been created in the 1600's and used with great success in a limited part of Europe, it was eventually absolved by a Royal Monarchy - but it's legacy, not lost to our countrys Founding Fathers. So many men of great intelligence at that time, some who knew one another in the "Old World" and many who met here in America for the first time, but upon their being brought together and challenging one another, the greatest nation in the modern world was birthed & formed. I personally would add that Gods Hand was upon them as they served His greater Glory.
I've heard and read articles comparing Christianity to both Capitalism & Communism, while neither is anywhere near the truth, I think the Capitalism comparison comes in only because of America and it's ties to both. As to communism, it's all based on the premise of all being equal, which, we are all created equally under God, but, our lot in life is not assured to be as such. What Christianity does call for is those that "have" to share with those in "need", voluntarily - not by mandate or force. Also, the definition of "need" has become pretty skewered in the modern world. In that vain, were called to "teach a man to fish", it's the orphans, widows, lame, imprisoned and persecuted we're called to provide for, not those that "can" and "don't" do for themselves. However, things happen, people hit low spots and be it here on our shores or overseas and abroad America in her giving Christian Spirit has always come to the aide of many. This is because of and out of our Capitalist Abundance.
As mentioned previously, the "end" of a Republic or Democracy typically come from one (or both of) two things, a sense of entitlement or an attitude of complacency, I don't think theres any arguement that America is currently suffering from both. Sadly this applies to both the haves and the have nots, we as a country have become so abundant that I think we've greatly lost sight of the reason we got here and what it was all about. Were a country divided down the middle in many ways with both sides saying the other is wrong or to blame, yet truly I don't think either side has it fully right. Because of our blessings, I think and fear that like the Israelites so many years ago that we've fallen out of Gods favor, we certainly don't respect Him or His laws, morals, edicts or Word like we at one time did. The very "freedom" that His law gave us has been usurped to a "personal" level of freedom established by the individual, which has become a gambit of ones own wants and desires.
We can't kid ourselves that this attitude of personal discretion hasn't invaded the Church, it's a flagrant flag waving as people within Gods family go to one extreme or the other with their own interpetation of what Gods Word truly says and how they "choose" to apply it in their profession of Faith. It's overboard and "off the charts" on both sides, either by excessive tolerance or intolerance as the individual sees fit. People are often heard either condoning blatant sin or extoling hatred in the name of God in Christ. 80% of America "claims" to be Christian, can anyone look around at the way we treat one another on a daily basis and tell me with a straight face that that figure holds up? God is Love, and thats the topical point of Part III
Pt 3 - Abounding
Before I venture in to this section on Gods Love, the Love of God and God like Love (or Godly love) I'd like to clear up one thing from Pt II. It may have sounded like I'd lumped all of America into 2 groups, my apologies, that wasn't my intent. Nor do I believe it to be the case, there are several other factions, one primarily in the middle of the two larger groups that seem to represent the whole. More on all of that will be covered later.
God is Love, so often said, so easy to understand. He's certainly the most patient and tolerant "parent" I've ever seen or heard of, I mean seriously, think about if you were in His position and your "kids" did many of the things we do in dishonor of Him. Yet He loves us anyway, so much so that He gave His only Son (Jesus) as a Living Sacrifice and an atonement on the Cross for OUR sins, yet, even before that He created us in his very own image out of love and desire for fellowship. What does He ask from us in return?
Several things, obedience and respect to start though, as a society we blow that one pretty bad most of the time, by our default to our sinful human nature, which He understands - thats why Christ went to the Cross. So that, the sin in us be atoned for and the Holy Spirit can dwell within us. Problem solved right? Nah, of course it's not that easy, were still in this shell of sin, so it's a fight, but it need only our submission and the battle becomes far easier. Of course thats where more trouble comes in, we don't want to give up "our will" no matter how wrong it is. Even when we may finally achieve it, the devil is always right there to remind us of how "fun" the flesh side of us is, the battle wages on.
Thats God's love for us, but what about our love for Him? It seems simple, ask any believer and they'll tell you how much they love God or Jesus, but, is it conditional? Is it real? Sincere? Genuine? Well, thats up to the individual, truth be told most of us easily and readily love a good loving parent, yet, God, by nature of His "lack of physical presence (visibly)" He's often forgotten. Many love Him greatly when the blessings are flowing, but as soon as the storms hit... the passion wanes, often to a point of one cursing His very name. Why, can one love so much, so deep, so devout - but only when the going is good? Doesn't He deserve the same deep devotion from us that He has for us? How many actually even have a personal relationship with Him? Sadly these days many people rely on a Pastor, parent, spouse or friend for their personal connection with God in Christ. Lacking of the personal connection is detremental to ones walk of Faith.
So how is one to love God? Like one would love anyone else, but with a deeper & more spiritual Love. How would one show that very love? Simply by submission, obedience, fellowship, Prayer, reading of His Word the Bible and in the way we treat others. The family of God is the human population, how you treat others, no matter how they treat you is the key elemnet and indicator of ones realtionship publicly. In all we do, we represent Him by our actions and deeds when we proclaim Him. Often people go to far in this too, in essence "using" His name as a moniker for other gain such as a "Christian Businessman" or "Christian Physician". These types of things have become common practice and sadly theres really no place for them, we're told not to serve two masters, by conjoining God to our profession it's as if were dividing loyalty, although were trying to combine them. If your a true Christian, you shouldn't need a "tag-line" to "advertise" and lets face it, thats what were doing when we define ourselves that way. Were often looking to gain business or attention based on our Faith. In essence this is almost as if using God as a endorsement for our profit, ah, commercialization.
If the bulk of this country loved God the way it loves money, what a loving place it'd be. I'm a proponent of capitalism, I'm not denying that or hedging it, it's made America a wealthy and prosporous nation of great inventions and much success. While at the same time it's also allowed us perhaps to much financial blessing to where many have taken their eyes off the true purpose of their existence. Christian leaders often take a vow of poverty of some sort, it's not as common as it once was, but does still exist in theory, there was a reason for this and likely it had to do with motive and "being more like Christ" which by it's very nature is what being a Christian is, striving to be more Christlike.
I'm not going to "name names" once in this writing, I'm not here to "tear at the body of Christ", but to make this point I'd like to do a comparison. In the modern day an inspirational tv preacher has become a pretty big name in the Christian movement, the first time I saw them on TV I thought it was a motivational speaker, which I guess they kind of are. But as a "preacher" (meaning of the gospel), the message is often one of financial success. But, if were called to be like Christ how does this TV Preacher stack up when put side by side with Jesus? How is their life and words mirroring those of our Lord and Savior? Sadly, the appeal to the "world" is about "being blessed" not about being a blessing, it's about abundance, not sacrifice. JFK once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". I truly believe that our "motto" as Christians should be "Ask not what God can do for you, ask what you can do for God".
I'm not saying that we should never ask God for anything, He knows our "needs", and He promises to provide. Often when people first come to Christ it's when they are broken and wounded, in need of being "restored", thats a time that God will certainly provide you through. But at some point, it's time to serve, not be served. Sadly far to many get "restored", and then fall away completely - until the next time.
Pt 4 - Pounding
"Fox-Hole Faith" & "Toilet Hugging Promises", I'm sure neither need much explanation, as both are so common, but a lite overview will suffice. When one is "under-fire" in life and we call on God with that "please get us out of this" plea, it's typically followed with useless promises of "I'll never do it again". Just like when someone drinks to much and gets sick as a dog and, as their vomiting in the toilet, begging for mercy, pleaing for the room to stop spinning and asking for the misery to end, it's almost always tied to the words "If I get through this, I'll never drink again" (and for the repeat offenders it often includes - "And I mean it this time".
C'mon, really, God's heard it all and more importantly, He knows the heart, He knows the true feelings within a person. Once again, like any parent, He's (lovingly) hoping that you'll come to your senses yet. After 9/11 it's said that Church attendance went up, I believe thats true, as I saw many societal changes after that tragic event. I thought they were the blessing within the disaster, sadly, they didn't last. But for a brief moment people looked to God, drew closer to family and changed their focus.
A funny point about those attacks though, they were aimed at finance & Gov't, not Religion. Wow, religious extremists who, in their part of the world, if they really wanted to "strike at" an enemy would go for temples, Churches or Mosques etc. Yet here in America to make a point with us they were gunning for our finances, that says a lot. Even as a capitalist I see that we got to wrapped up in it, the country was founded on it, but it was done without 80 hour work weeks, more time for family and a commitment to honor and God. I think it's sad that a Country once seen and known for it's Freedom and Faith is recognized now only for it's "profit & financial success".
This has bled over into Christianity so deeply that some things aren't even recognizable anymore. At the moment you'd never expect to hear a true & devout man of God say something about "Hittin it big" in the lottery, or goin to Vegas to "roll bank", why? Well because gambling isn't an acceptable practice in the Christian Religion - but... How many Christians are "gambling" in business ventures, investments, and the stock market? Quite a few, I know it's accepted as "business" or "the way the world works" but it's still gambling. Risking money that you have, in an attempt to gain more, based on the success or failure of events be it the draw of numbers, or the sales of a corporation.
What about a Christian that owns multiple properties and rents them out, God would call us to put people in those homes, people in need. If the properties are rented at "fair market value" then how has someone been blessed by being in there? We used to be set apart as Christians, these days it's hard to tell the difference, hence the "Christian businessman" label from the previous writing. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are good "Christian businessmen", but sadly my experience as well as that of several others I know has made that a title to run from. Please know, I mean no offense to anyone, I've had a real reality check of my own life and decisions as I've gone through this, I've fallen into many of these traps myself. Christianity "picked-up" a lot of "extras" in the last couple of thousand years. When man gets his hands on Gods Word and laws if were not careful things get tinkered with.
When it comes to rough times in our Christian walk we always remember the story of Job, a righteous man who endured much yet never denied or cursed God or his Faith. In turn he was greatly rewarded and everything was returned to him two fold, we often forget though that this was an Old Testament story, meaning before Christ. After Christs Ministry was launched and He went to the Cross, many of His followers were fed to lions, burned & hung. Paul, perhaps one of the easiest followers for many of us to relate to, never experienced "comfort" blessings, neither did most of the disciples, at least not here on earth. Endless prosecution and persecution was their lot in life, as followers of Christ and professors of the Faith.
Sadly, I see more and more Pastors getting "second" jobs, the monies aren't coming in to many of the smaller Churches like they need to because of this economy. Some people think it's good for them to work "in the world", I personally don't. The attitude of "they need to know whats going on out there" falls short, all they have to do is turn on the news (or open their front door) and they can see / know how bad things are. I'd prefer our Christian leaders to spend their time studying Gods Word deeply, and Praying without ceasing for their congregants. These are the people we rely on for a good portion of our spiritual "food" and Christian leadership, for counsel, for guidance. We know whats in the world, we look to these people to show us the Truth of God in Christ - we don't need them spending time out there toiling for a living. If there out helping others with needs, great, put not punching a timeclock, they work for God and were the payroll dept.
So why has this become an issue? Several reasons, lets start with this, far to many Church leaders didn't take or have any sort of vow of poverty and with people like the one mentioned earlier all over TV, people often think the "Church" just has piles of money pouring in. I'm not a big proponent of a 10% tithe, I've come to believe "give what you can give, give what God leads you to give and do it all joyfully", your attitude is as important as your gift in your relationship with God. Sadly all those High Dollar Preachers have given it a bad name and reputation. By the same way I don't want them to work outside of the Church Ministry I also don't think any of them should be paid large amounts, I believe it's Biblically sound and I believe we should all live far more modestly as Christians. Were to stand out for being different, not the same as the world, Jesus never would have worn a Rolex or driven a Hummer/Caddy or Lincoln ( especially not a new one). He rode into town on a donkey, not a stallion.
Pt 5 - Hounding
Modesty & Moderation
Lets go with moderation first, when did this whole Christian life of excess come into play. Best I can tell it started in the '50's, but didn't gain steam or noteriety until the '70's with the advent of the "TV Evangelist" and the Prosperity Gospel, the '70's were an interseting time in the Church's place in society too. I'm guessing the events of the '70's were fueled as a reaction to the '60's counter culture movement. Christianity as a whole began it's withdrawl from society as it had once been, the popularity of private schools, homeschooling & gated communities really grew. While at the same time, religious leaders became far more active in politics, I've got to say though that legislating morality is never likely to work, especially in a free country.
With Christianity not as active in the schools, communities or local agencies there was a steep decline in basic moral guidelines that had been in place for years. Also remember that Prayer had been removed from schools as mandatory in the '60's and was gaining steam in the '70's. So as Christians departed from their active involvement in these key areas things changed. At the same time societies perception of Christianity changed as it saw attempts at legislating a Christian moral code, one which although always popular would be "forced" and the "televangelist" became the "face" of Christianity to many, and the scandals that went with them.
Scandals aside, even before they became the "news of the day" the constant cry on the TV set for "more money" and people seeing these Preachers living lavish lifestyles grew contempt toward the body of believers as a whole and Americas perception of Christianity (in general) was forever changed. It had gone from being a beautiful Religion of love & peace - with good moral boundries, to a mockery of Gods true Word as it seemed about money and condemnation. This continued on into the '80's as the Bakker & Swaggart scandals really added to the poor perception, cable TV now made news of these scandals readily available to all and often. The word hypocrisy became synonomous with Christianity as the self proclaimed "moral majority" became the money seeking adulterers.
Along comes the '90's and Christianity realizes and sees that it's lost touch with society as a whole and begins a journey back in to a more public life. the Christian music industry explodes at this point coming off the success of one big named band of Professed Christians that actually "made it" in an industry known for sin & vice. Sadly, Christianity has lost it's true meaning and passion in how it's represented to the general public and the "Christian Market" begins (thats the marketability of Christ "stuff"). In the music industry it becomes a pretty well known fact that if you can't "make it" in the industry, try the Christian Market where all things "God" are readily for sale. Put a Cross on a flashlight and it's a Christian flashlight, same flashlight you can get elsewhere for less money. Also Christian "imaging" explodes, if theres a product or logo thats well known or popular in "the world", alter it's words to say Jesus and you have the "Christian" version or take on say coca cola or starbucks. Sadly, this lacks all originality, and just makes Christianity a different "version" of something wordly.
This is still sadly where we are today for the most part, it's all marketability as everything is driven by the dollar. I'm not saying that everyone is like this, or that everyone thinks this way, but we've become so focused on money and success in this country that we've lost the true meaning and spirit of much of what Christianity is about - the capitalism got blended into the Christianity. Once again, I'm a capitalist, it's a good financial system, but Christianity isn't a financial system. Look how many people (Christians included) bust and strive for their "retirement", they store up fundage for a day that may never come, and the more the better. I'm not saying that one shouldn't save money or put money away, but for many that money was gone in the markets over the last year or so and people were pretty upset. The Bible has a great story of a man who built bigger barns and silos for all his bountiful harvest, in his mind he'd be set for along time and could "rest". But, that very night God called for his life. God also instructs us through His Word to rely on Him - not ourselves AND to "give us THIS day our daily bread". He's always told us the time is short, the end is near, tomorrow isn't a given and you can't take it with you when you go.
The Bible also never mentions retirement, just wanted to point that out, I believe were called to Worship & serve Him all the days of our life. I know most Christians don't see retirement as a move away from God, it's actually a chance to do more for Him what with that career out of the way. But for those that pass away before retirement did you serve Him when you could. We need to do what we can, where we are, with what we got for Him everyday, it's not a holding pattern. Back for a moment to the topic of becoming "like" the world, we have God on our side, shouldn't we set the trend? At least our trend? So many Christians have fallen into the trap of "fitting in", if theres any doubt, just look at the skimpy attire of many Christian women & girls - because it's "in-style" or the "latest trend". I know, we've got to be "cool" to fit in and be accepted by the world right? - Well, heres a thought, Jesus wasn't "cool" by the worlds standards, He was an outcast, no glam, no glitz, no marketing, nothing fancy. Modesty of the Christian man and woman I believe is essential for the TRUE gospel, and not just modesty of dress, but modesty of lifestyle as well. People need to be drawn to the Spirit of God in us, not the wealth, fame or lust appeal.
Several once professed Christians have "made it" in either music or movies, along the way they got lost. Modesty most assuredly went out the window, one little pop tart-ette has reportedly exposed (accidentally) just about every body part to onlookers due to "limited" attire and getting out of vehicles the wrong way or some crud. I will say however that I've not heard any of them continue to profess their Faith, but now their fame. A few managed (so far) to hold on to their Faith, but those also are the ones that have set themselves apart valuing their morals & Faith over their fame & popularity.
Pt 6 - Resounding
Islam / Muslim is a rather archaic Religion in it's structure, belief and action and yet, it's growing like wildfire, I find this interesting because many Christians have watered Christianity down so much to make it "palletable & appealing" that it's lost it's core Truths along the way. I'm not speaking of everyone and certianly not every Church, but many, especially in the "mega Church" venue have really watered things down seemingly in an effort to draw more numbers. I mean, yes, sure it sounds good to say that there were thousands of people at your service on Sunday, but if the message was a diluted Truth, then what does it really matter.
This falls back to the marketing issue that was discussed in Pt V, some Churches have even resorted to hiring professional musicians for their band's. Once again, I believe most people hunger for the Truth, thats evidenced by the rapid growth of Islam / Muslim Faith - not that it's the Truth, but it's stuck to it's core principals and beliefs, that certainly seems more genuine. Sadly, as I'd addressed previously there are so many good Bible believing, Truth professing Churches out there - but it seems all the goofy sell outs always get the press, ah the old devil is working overtime and getting his job done.
This comes back once again too to the fact that as a believer we need to be in the Word and in Prayer, each and everyday. You can't sit around till Sunday waiting for someone to tell you what God & His Word say, were called to have an individual relationship with Him. I know it can be tough at times, finding the free time, finding the place but, if anything else came up that was important to you, you'd find the time and place. Perhaps a buddy or accountability system would help, especially if your married, do Prayer, reading and devotion together. Not married? Then find a friend, even if you do it on the phone it builds accountability, heck, these days on-line would even work.
As to the watered down message(s) I spoke of, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that these Churches should Preach hate or intolerance, just Biblical Truth and as always it should be done in love. Back to the first part of this, the way many treat each other here in America is horrible, all to often, yet, if we all were to look at one another as Saints, or as Jesus, I'm sure we'd have a new "take or outlook" pretty quickly. So, what is the appeal of the Muslim Islamic religion today, it seems so "old fashioned" and oppresive to women, yet even women are converting in pretty high numbers. Could it be that life and family, the way God had intended it, is truly appealing at peoples core? Maybe, or it could be a fad, you know, the trendy thing to do.
So where do we go from here, whats a Christian to do? Well, I guess your walk is all up to you, I've shared here some of the Truths I've studied, some observations I've made, some great conversations I've had and the vibe from much more Prayer. I've been blessed to have some free time lately, God used it to His Glory and for that I'm thankful, I once suffered from overcommitment and a constant schedule of fullness, most of it serving no great purpose other than busyness. I can tell you that many of my lifes questions, personal voids and curiosities have been sated in this time frame. My natural curiosities about Biblical items that didn't make sense have been answered, my Faith strengthened and my relationship with God personalized. I'm still working and growing, learning everyday, but I've got "habits" and a schedule now for my time with God and that helps a lot. It took some doing getting used to, but the time was there, it just took some sacrifice on my part. Also, I highly recommend getting into a group Bible study, it helps with accountability and you can challenge one another and have great discussions.
I'm sure theres others out there on the same or similar venture that I am, just hungering for the Truth of God in Christ and desiring to share & discuss it with others. As a matter of fact I know there is because I know several who are doing it and my thanks to all of them for all the great discussions we've had.
Pt 7 - Rebounding
"Answering the Call"
God often calls us to certain people, places or events if you've not experienced a calling yet, Pray some more and spend more time in Gods Word. One doesn't have to look to hard to find the areas of need, there often the very areas that we as a people try to avoid. When Christianity as a whole for the most part withdrew from society many areas were left unattended, the Bible is pretty clear on who were supposed to serve. Unfortunatly it's often the people that many go out of their way to avoid, I guess when and where capitalism and prosperity crept in to Chritianity many got off track.
Theres a society in serious need of the Gospel and the true and genuine love of Christ, theres a few that may seek it out through a Church, but were called to be "the Church" aka the "hands and feet". We should get geared up at church (the building) and then take the message out to the world. Unfortunatly far to many "churches" became social gathering spots and comfort zones so the message is stalled on the wrong side of the door. Hopefully the followers and believers carry the message in their daily lives, in all they do, be it work, school or play, but looking at society as a whole I'd venture to guess not.
I'm not by any means saying to be pushy or agressive, all things should be done in genuine love and concern. Your witness should not include personal condemnation or judgement, we've been given this great blessing thats for all and everyone, why do we so often hoard it? Whats holding us up or holding us back? At this time in society more than any in recent history people are in need and hungry, they are in need of Gods Word and hungry for the message of love and forgiveness. This is a lost world, and were called to evangelize the lost - why are we not in greater force, why are we not where we need to be?
Sadly many Christians are so overbooked with obligations that mean nothing on judgement day, excess activities for the kids, overtime and second jobs. A question I asked recently made for a fun little discussion for our Friday Family Night time, "If the house were on fire and you had time to grab one thing and save it, what would it be?" It makes for some interesting conversation and a great point for self examination, look at your life and schedule, if you knew you were going to die within the week what would you do differently? What are you putting off for God till you have more time? Why? We are called to put God first and foremost in all things, why don't we? Why is it that all to often everything else takes priority over our creator, ruler and Heavenly Father? I always hear that "God understands" our schedules, obligations and commitments, but I truly believe that what God understands is that He gives us free will and what we do as to our obligations is our own decision, not the worlds.
I believe that we need to begin Praying for Gods forgiveness for our foolish choices and decisions, confessing them as sin and repenting from them, then begin asking Him to guide us through the road of muck & mire to having a more balanced life. A life in which God in Christ is first and foremost if we are to call ourselves Christians. If we give priority to everything else before God and then give Him the exhausted remnant of whats left of us at the end of the day, are we really showing Him that we love Him in return - by giving Him "scraps"? God should be first and last, our lives as Christians should begin and end upon Him in humility, obedience and love, all the stuff in the middle that really doesn't matter at the end of the day will be cared for by Him. If we truly entrust it all over to Him, and place Him first the rest will all come together much smoother.
I know it sounds passe, but the whole WWJD movement of a few years ago does serve as a good reminder, consider your actions and deeds through Gods eyes. Keep a mind set of God in Christ being beside and alongside you throughout your day, see if your actions deeds and priorities change. Just remember if you expect God to make time for you, you need to make time for Him. God isn't an ATM machine nor a magic genie lamp dispensing our wants and "needs" premised on our sinful earthly desires. He's our Heavenly Father, Ruler and Creator of the Heavens and the earth, we need to treat him as such, we are here to serve Him, not the other way around.
Pt 8 - Sounding
So, we looked at all the twists and turns that Christianity took throughout Americas history and see where it is today. Depending on where you go to "church" your apt to get one slant or another on it, so how is one to define true Christianity? And where would find it today?
I'd first recommend Prayer, checking Churches and trying them out (if your not already at one your comfortable with). I do believe the fellowship within a body of believers is a good thing, and the Bible states that as well. It gives us learning, growth, fellowship and accountability, all good things in ones walk. Church attendance does not however excuse you from your personal relationship with God - find and make the time, turn off a TV once in awhile, get up a little earlier or skip something within your weekly schedule that isn't as important as your God time.
As stated in a previous writing, Christianity is defined as being "Christ like" or working towards it, we'll not achieve it here on earth, but, the closer we get the better off we'll be. Now to truly be Christ like, we need to go back to the basics of who Christ was, study His life, His doings, and His actions & words.
Several years ago when I was working in the Christian Music industry I'd worked with a couple of Christian motorcycle clubs, they had a neat slogan of "If Jesus were here today He'd ride a Harley" lol. It's a cute slogan and ties into their Ministry, and I'm sure the thought came from Jesus somewhat rebel attitude, however, if you look at what Jesus actually did in His life you'd see that He'd be far more likely to show up at a biker gathering on a moped or bicycle. He rode a little donkey into town, not a stallion of a horse.
With Jesus, less is more, remember when He sent His disciples out and told them to take nothing but the clothes they were wearing? Did you ever notice when He called men to follow Him how they dropped everything and went? Notice they didn't gather their "stuff" together to go. Or when the rich man wanted to follow Him and Jesus told Him to get rid of all he had, the man couldn't do it, his "stuff" held him back. Jesus has shown us so readily in His life and by His Words what it is and means to be a Chrisitian. I don't know how the prosperity gospel ever got bought into. Please don't misunderstand, by the same token in todays era I don't think He's asking you to live under a bridge either, but He might.
God the Father knows the heart, how, what and where our true feelings and thoughts are, we may fool others with our words, but untruthful words are lost on God in Christ. Serving others out of genuine love, dying to self, truly putting God in Christ first in our lives, living modest & moderate lifestyles, humility and honor. If we can do these things, especially putting God in Christ first I think we can restore Christian America rather quickly. God is just and merciful, He sees all were up against and how easy it is for our fallen sinful human nature to get ensnared, but by the same token, He knows that we know He's always there. Free will is up to us