Just because a mouse is in a cookie jar, doesn’t mean he’s a cookie.
I don’t know where the saying came from. My dad’s been saying it as long as I can remember and it’s how I approach my life. Don’t call yourself an athlete if you don’t work out. Don’t call yourself a cook if you microwave all your meals. And don’t call yourself a Christian if you’re not going to live it.
I’ve been discouraged lately by the apparent lack of interest in church-based activities by individuals who call themselves “Christian’s”. It’s made me wonder; is their claim to Christianity simply a means to identify themselves? Is it a way to help them formulate ideas on how to vote and live a good life as a law abiding citizen? Their Christianity is more of a political statement than a lifestyle. They don’t want to call themselves and Atheist or Agnostic, because that would mean they would have to be liberal and have no morals right?
I wish that more people would take an approach to worship and Christianity the way they approach sports. At the end of a long week at work, people are always willing to hang out, watch the game, take the kids to practice, go to little league tournaments, or spend hours practicing. When was the last time you heard a little league parent say, “it’s been a long week. We’re just going to sleep in today and skip practice.” They never do it. But every week Christian’s do the same thing about church.
Living a “Christian” life to me is more than not murdering, lying, or cheating on your spouse. There are a lot of Muslims, Hindu’s, and Atheists who live life the exact same way. Christian living includes that command of Jesus to love your neighbor and to make disciples. Christianity includes active participation in Christian community and service to others.
Last year I volunteered to work the World Vision Sponsorship booth at a Casting Crowns concert. If you didn’t know, Casting Crowns is one of those Christian mega-bands usually selling out just about every venue they book. They are all youth pastors from Atlanta and broke onto the Christian music scene with challenging lyrics about how the church fails people. I was excited to get to help World Vision at the event and hopefully find people who were inspired by the bands example and take on the responsibility of saving a child from poverty. What I found was at intermission, the merchandise table couldn’t sell t-shirts and CD’s fast enough while concert goers were doing their best to avoid eye contact with us at the World Vision table.
More recently the fight against Christian apathy has hit closer to home. My local church has taken on a month long, televised evangelistic series called “Revelation Today”. The response from the community at large has been tremendous, with over 500 requests for Bible studies prior to the event even beginning. Yet, as the event draws near, we don’t have the volunteers we need to make it happen. There are over 3000 members among the local churches sponsoring the event, but we can’t get the 800 volunteers we need to help with parking, childcare, greeting, etc. And it’s not just my church. As I’ve talked with others, it seems every church in every denomination has the same problem.
How did we get to this point?
Who’s fault is it? Parents? Pastors? Youth Leaders? Church Members? Family?
Is there anything anyone can do?
My wife and I have tried to jump in and help, working on recruiting others to volunteer. But the response has been lukewarm and very discouraging. The result is we want to walk away ourselves. To turn our back as so many others have. To take the response of “Someone else will do it” or “it’s not my problem”. I don’t understand it.
I can’t walk away and call myself a Christian anymore than I could say I care about my kids education yet skip parent/teacher conferences and don’t make them do their homework. In a year where people are proudly wearing their political badges and engaging others against their will on every political topic, I would hope that Christian’s could find the same passion for living their faith beyond the polls and pews to truly make a difference in the world.