"The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. THAT is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
If you're my age, or if you strangely happen to listen to a lot of 90's music, (something I'd be careful to admit apart from M.J. I mean, come on. Everyone loves Thriller. If you say you don't you're lying.) you probably know where I got that quote. It's on the beginning of an amazing track to an amazing DCTalk album-Jesus Freak. And lately it's been swimming around in my head.
For years, I loved the concept of that idea. That quote and song and album really had me thinking about hypocrisy. In high school, I believed Christianity was all about not being ashamed to talk about Jesus. So I was bold to say I believed in Him. I was a student leader in the high school ministry. I would talk about Him at school if I got the opportunity. I attended See You At The Pole every year. I refused to attend parties. I thought that's what being a Christian was all about. And I was totally and completely messed up. I was living in a number of pits of destruction-some that I had been flung into. Many that I dug and jumped into myself. All those years I have looked at the concept behind that quote completely backwards. Here's what I mean:
When people get turned off to Jesus because of Christians, maybe it's not about what we do and don't attend. What kind of language we use. What we believe about Creation, how old this Earth is, whether Jesus is really coming back and when. Heaven and Hell. How nice of a person we are. These things are important, yes, but I have come to believe that they may actually distract from the heart and depth of things.
For several years I worked in environments of ministry. I attended a small Bible school where you literally live in a bubble for a period of time and get to just be infiltrated with Jesus. And after that, I worked at a Christian camp and lived and taught in a Christian Conference Center that I never needed to leave for any reason. After that I moved home for MJC and ended up being an intern at Big Valley Grace. Twice. This whole time, I thought I had gained knowledge and wisdom from all I lived and worked with about avoiding hypocrisy. About making sure people look at my life and see something that makes Jesus so real. And then the hard stuff started.
I began working in the secular world. SuddIenly I was spending every day in environments of complete darkness. For the last 4 years, I've been the only Christian in my work place. And it wasn't until that began that I truly learned what it is that makes it hard for people to have any desire to know Jesus as they believe He'd be.
Here's what I've learned. With small amounts of exceptions, over the last several years what I've seen is that when a person who doesn't know the Lord looks at the Christian in their midst, watches their life, they see only the different view of science and the involvement in a Church. Other than those main things, it's very hard to tell a difference between a believer and an atheist. I've worked with atheists and Buddhists who are much more joyful and kind than most of the Christians I am around. In fact, a lot of the pastors and believers I know from town are daily customers at my store right now. And I have been getting infuriated by the fact that they are actually some of the most sour, rude, or fakely friendly people we see each day. Trust me, my co-workers are smart people. They can see through a fake nice-ness. Quite easily.
I have been wrestling for several years with why it is we don't have any very large differences about us. And THAT right there is the issue that I have come to believe is THE greatest single cause of atheism today. We're not getting it. We're living an American, watered-down Christianity that involves keeping your nice house, white picket fence, and new soccer mom SUV. We do everything exactly the same as the non-believer who lives next door, but we add two hours of church attendance during the week and a Bible study of two during the year and we think that somehow that will appeal to others. We're not getting it.
About 5 years ago I realized this. I hit a point where I decided I was too tired of pretending I was okay. Or happy. And One night I began just unleashing all my fears and concerns to God. I hollered and cried and screamed and began wrestling with Him and myself like never before. I angrily yelled at Him that I was sick and tired of being so messed up. So unhealthy. So deep in bondage. So addicted. So alike every other messed-up person on this planet. As a believer, wasn't I supposed to have victory over these things? Wasn't I supposed to be on top of hard circumstances and having incredible stories to tell of encounters and healing and witnessing the Spirit's movement and involvement in everything? Wasn't everything supposed to be a dramatically different way of life than with someone who doesn't know Jesus? And I realized that the majority of Christians I know couldn't answer yes to any of those questions about their own lives. Oh, sure. They genuinely love Jesus. They serve Him. They may even truly deeply affect others. But they are not living dynamically power-filled lives of authority. They aren't taking the few moments to truly SEE the people they encounter throughout the day. They aren't learning how to lay hands on a pray over people in a way that actually heals and cures disease. (Oh, yes. I DO believe that is very possible. Does that make you squirm?) I didn't want to end up like that. I wanted to get it right. Even if that meant being the weird different one at church of all places. I began to understand that when I get it-I mean REALLY get it-I will be living, breathing, moving with the Spirit. And when I do that, I actually CAN have the power and authority to be over circumstances. To see people and have a knowledge and insight of what God Himself sees and thinks. And because I am literally His daughter, I get to have the very real power and ability to rein in His authority. Kind of like when the King would leave for business and leave his signat ring with someone He trusted to make decisions on his behalf and put an order or a motion into effect with his power backing it up. I have the seal of approval from the King. And if I truly understand that, I can live quite differently. I have the authority to literally move a mountain. Tell a demon to leave. Heal a disease. Sound crazy? Well, maybe it is. But it's true all the same. And we don't live this out. We don't take time to be connected to His voice enough for these things. It would take too much time. Be too inconvenient. And really? I think we're afraid if we listen, we'll be asked to do things, give up things, and go places that we most certainly do not want to deal with. It would be disruptive to our live. And people would think we're crazy. But maybe, just maybe, if we began truly living Christianity in the way we're meant to-healing disease, taking care of each other, providing for believers all over the globe-God has such incredible intimacy, miraculous experiences, and mind-blowing amazement to put into our lives, that when others see what we're living and experiencing, they won't be able to deny the Jesus they're seeing there. It will be different, powerful, real, and HUGE. It will become undeniable.
We just haven't begun to really grab ahold of this. Of all it entails. We're too distracted by that career. That sport. That two-hour episode of Grey's Anatomy. That vacation we have to plan because we're too overworked. Sometimes i wonder.....If I were as tapped into the spirit as we could be, I think all He and I would be doing together would be such a wild ride that I'd feel like I was being whisked away on a fascinating cruise every day. Hmmmmm.....
I still have so much to learn. I've barely even scratched the surface. But I already have one wild story that's begun to develop......