I've noticed the church in America has a great many problems. I've noticed this sometimes while I was personally contributing to them. In the process, however, I think I may have realized a central root cause of these problems. With any luck, you'll agree with me wholeheartedly and then we can all go out to Gennaro's for fettuccine alfredo. (If you don't agree, well, maybe we can still eat alfredo.) Consider the problem of legalism - defined (by me) as the self-righteous clinging to doctrines and practices that flagrantly don't matter to God, with all the useless arguing, divisiveness, and toxic pride that goes with it:
For a lot of us in the evangelical world, this starts to look like something called "Game of Life" Christianity. A lot of us tend to perceive life as a generally linear pathway - a few deviations here and there but largely taking us past the same milestones, towards the same end goal - fulfillment, comfort, success, lots of little pink and blue pegs in the back of our plastic minivans.
We're all perfectly willing for someone ELSE to draw that card - "spend themselves" on the poor, the hungry, and the lost - but not us. We're content to lead lives of utter self-serving mediocrity, as though we can take the spiritual equivalent of "the gentleman's C" and still get to retire to Millionaire Estates.
Or consider the state of evangelism. Our strategies generally take one of two styles, and while they can sometimes work out fine, the results are frequently tepid.
Deep down, regardless of the language we use, a lot of Christians believe ourselves to be perfectly good, decent people.
And it's a huge problem. I'll go into more details in later posts, but I believe we won't get our lives or our communities straight until we allow ourselves to be entirely broken and defeated at the feet of God. Until then, we'll keep singing choruses to our favorite hymn: