Is Westernized Christianity the cream of the crop, or are we fooling ourselves? Today, while driving my car, I pondered this question. When contrasting Christians from westernized countries to those living in Communist, Hindu or Islamic nations, you can see a vast difference overall.
Now, I am a westernized Christian, so I believe I have a right to speak freely. The fact of the matter is, we think we are God's gift to mankind. We are the wealthiest people, the top nations, the best form of Christianity. I used to hate when liberals would bash on America, as they would often state wrong reasons we are bad. However, the premise of Westernized Christianity being prideful is altogether true.
Back in 2003, I lived in a foreign country called Kyrgyzstan for about one year. I had a chance to learn a good amount about their culture, language and the people who lived there. Now, I do not believe that Christians are of different breeds in various cultures. However, our surroundings have a huge impact on our Christian walk. In Kyrgyzstan, the Christian community is more like a family, in structure. They tend to spend more time together, rely on each other, help each other financially and so forth. Also, they seem to have far fewer hangups with denominationism and tend to have a simpler faith in Christ.
I am not saying they are a better people. However, what I am saying is that many who call themselves "Christian" in America are not actually Christian. I believe, due to the ease of life in westernized society, some people wear Christianity like a badge. In countries where it is a less favorable climate towards Christians, those with no root quickly leave the church. So, if persecution came to westernized Christians, how many would still remain Christian?
Now this may not seem directly related, but the other day, I am on this website called eHarmony.com, giving it a test drive. I just wanted to see what it was all about. Now, when I signed up, I allowed my search to be worldwide, rather than limiting my perspectives to local women. As I started to get matches in, most seemed to be from America, however about 35% of them seemed to be foreign. Most of the foreign ones were Korean. However, maybe it is a result of it being popular in Korea, I am not sure. Yet, one of the things I noticed as I was reading through all these profiles is that many of the American women seemed to be more secularlized. Now, I did not forget to indicate I was seeking strong Christian women when I signed up. So, I found it disturbing that some of my matches did not seem as strong as I had hoped. Now, some of the American women appeared to really be strong Christians. Yet, when comparing their profiles to the four Korean women, they seemed not as strong of believers. It seemed like the foreign women had a strong Christian faith and a lot less dependancy on cell phones, coffee, etc. and more of a focus on serving God ministry or missionary-wise. I know, "coffee, what's the big deal?", right? It was how they worded their goals and what was important to them in life, which caught my attention. Some of the American women seemed to think TV, cable or lattes were things they could not live without, while the foreign women tended to list things like church, God, etc. You can make of it what you will. I could just be over analyzing (which is one of my pet-peeves).
My point is, Christians in America seem to have their heads on crooked more often than Christians in the restricted or persecuted nations. Nations with few rights, create strong Christians. Here in America, we are more concerned about what is on TV tonight than preaching the gospel to every creature. I am not judging, but pointing out the facts. There is nothing wrong with TV and I am quite sure missionaries watch TV, but the fact is, our priorities are out of whack.
Now, it is true, the very reason why western civilization has had so much success in this world is because we started out with our heads on straight. We put God first. We created countries, while seeking God's will, particularly America. But, we have lost that vision and we are on the wrong side now and need to return. We need to get our head out of the sand and start paying attention and doing God's will.
If you ask your local pastor, or just watch their preaching, you would think the sins of America were:
- Not giving enough money to the local church - (the church needs a new carpet).
- Being in church everytime the doors are open - (the most important commandment).
- Avoid Sexual thoughts and desires - (what is wrong with you, pervert?).
- Questioning the pastor or your church's teaching - (where did you think you had the right?)
- Electing another liberal in Washington - (who isn't liberal anymore?).
- We have to get that Christian rock & tatoos out of the church - (no short sleeves either).
- And so forth..
But, what are America's true sins?
- Not preaching God's Word outside of church and teaching all nations (including our own).
- Seeking our own and not Christ daily.
- Not proactively serving Christ within our jobs, family and the rest of our lives.
- Forsaking Christians abroad: who need Bibles, tools / resources, financial aid and more.
- Concerning ourselves too much with a couple doctrines and forsaking all the rest. For example, we concern ourselves with: abortion, tatoos, Christian dress and going to church once a week, but forsake preaching the gospel and loving our neighbor as ourselves and praying without ceasing. Really, do we just pick and choose what commandments to follow? Should we strain at a gnat on a couple doctrines and swallow a camel on the rest?
- Not truly seeking God's Law and Word, to know it fully. Being selfish and conniving towards other Christians with differing viewpoints, condemning them. Not fully equipping ourselves and allowing ourselves to have opinion with a couple handy scriptures, instead of truly seeking God's face. Assuming we know it all and the other guy must be dumber than a box of rocks.
- Buying things we do not need, seeking our own pleasure, assuring ourselves it is good to do. Rather than giving it to good causes for Christ, to further His Kingdom (such as Christians in Egypt, China, etc). What would happen if every rich Christian actually stopped buying expensive houses, cars, boats and the like and rather donated their money to worthy causes or used it internally in a ministry of their own? How many people would be saved? Would the world be changed in a week? A month? A year?
Maybe us westerners spend too much time justifying certain things that should not be justified. And condemning too many things that should not be condemned. Maybe it is like Jesus said in Revelation. You think you are rich, but really, you are poor, wretch and miserable. Maybe America is poor, wretched and miserable? And, maybe, it is not in the way you assume. Maybe we are blinded to the real sins in our lives (and allow ourselves to be blinded to them). Blinded to our greed, our lust for more. This is what true selfishness and true lust is. Not some sexual desire, but rather some endless selfish pursuit, whether sexual or not. And I think it really makes rich Christians feel good if they can forget that lust refers to all desires, not just sexual desire, but coveting, self-seeking desires (which are OK in most churches).
Do you feel Christ's Spirit freshly everyday? Maybe you want to and maybe you are really trying to live for Christ. I pray it is the case. I am not saying, you wake up and everything is perfect. Could be the exact opposite. It is the case with most everyone's life. But, you wake up with Christ's love glowing in your heart. Even if you are suffering through depression, anxiety, the economy, persecution or some other problem, you have Christ burning hot in your heart and you push on.
Consider your fellow brother's who do not have it easy.. Really consider joining them. Give up your money to good causes, rather than a new boat, car, etc. Do you really need that bigscreen TV? Does it really have to be 58 inches in size? Maybe you could buy a smaller one and donate the rest to a worthy ministry. Does that boat have to be 5 foot longer? Do you really need that a boat and doesn't it cost a ton to maintain? Will it not be better put to use preaching the gospel in a barren land? To print Bibles, so they can spend eternity with your best friend(Jesus Christ) in Heaven? How much is a soul worth? Can you put a price on it?
Is Christian rock music really leading our nation to Hell? Is having a short sleeve shirt really a sin? Did Jesus wear a suit and tie? Is that tatoo really the root of the problem? Or is it people's selfishness and sinful nature that needs to be fixed? Could not someone say all the right words, do all the right things and still goto Hell? Where not the pharisees and saducees this way? Perfect in appearance, but corrupt in the heart? Does God judge by outer appearance, or does he look on the heart? Do you want corrupt people who look good on the outside or some teens who have a fire in their heart and do not look the way you want? Who do you think Jesus will save the pharisee or the tax collector?
Honestly, do you think that your church needs more money? Can you do without for a while? Maybe give some of your donations to missions? I know of one church, in Kyrgyzstan. The pastor has been trying to build his church now for about 5 years (see picture link above on left side menu). His church grew lightning fast at first, but then hit growth problems when they could not find a church home. So, he started to build a church and he STILL is not finished! He has the building half built and is not getting the money fast enough to build it. Because he can not raise enough money! And he has went all over the world, to many churches, all this time, trying to raise the money. His own congregation gives, but the wages are so small compared to an American's wages and the building costs the same as if it was built in America! Further, it is a SMALL church, not some big church or even moderately big church building. Let me tell you story about trying to raise money for his church. I helped him one time. I asked my local church (which I had attended for about 1 year), if it would be possible to have him come in and speak and take a donation. My pastor said, "OK". So, we started to plan the event. Then, when my pastor friend from Kyrgyzstan arrived to Indiana, I emailed my pastor and he said, "Sorry, but he can not come and speak". I then ask, would it be possible to have a table out in the foyer and talk to people there. He said "No". So, basically, my pastor changed his mind after my friend from Kyrgyzstan already flew in. Now, my local church was a rich church. Meaning, lots of what I would call "affluent" Christians went there. So, I knew it was a good opportunity. Long story short, I barely could get my pastor to even meet with my pastor friend from Kyrgyzstan. Now, when we asked him for a donation, his wife said in Russian, "We have no money to give." I knew what she said, because I knew a little Russian as that is one of the two languages spoken in Kyrgyzstan. And then my local pastor (or should I say, my local ex-pastor), gave him a fake coin that said, "With God all things are possible". Now, to top it all off, my ex-pastor was at one time a MISSIONARY in this very country from which my friend came from!!! I am not joking! So, we are talking total spit in the face from this local pastor. Was this a by product of selfishness? Denominationalism? Greed? Ironically, in the end, some poor churches gave us more money than the rich churches did. As we went to a few different churches to raise money. The poorest of the poor, with people on welfare, etc gave us the most money. NO JOKE! I am not kidding. The smallest and most financially poor congregations gave the most money towards his church building project.. NOW, I have a question for you: What do you think God says to himself when he sees this? Do you think God cares?
In Fort Wayne, Indiana, we have around 400 churches (from one directory I was looking at). Yet, in Kyrgyzstan, they have maybe 20 churches. Now, Kyrgyzstan has only 5 million people, but, consider, Fort Wayne has about 500,000 people. So, 1/10th the size and 20 times as many churches. So, my pastor friend has been trying to build his church forever now. And I can tell you, we do not need one more church in Fort Wayne and too many of them, should not even call themselves churches. If I could, I would take the bad churches, expell all the people, take the building and magically transport it to various nations where Christians really needed it. Does this not show the error within American Christian thinking? Keep a lot for ourselves and give the bread crumbs to our poor Christian brothers. Now, honestly, do you really think your church needs another expansion? Can it be put on hold for a while? Is your denomination the only one on track or is that really pride in your heart? Perhaps you could help some churches to exist and thrive in another country, where it is desperately needed? Maybe they are not from your denomination, but maybe, God desperately wants you to put that aside and help them? Would you do God's will and help your Christian brothers around the world?