Monday, April 07, 2008

The Monkey in the Room - Part 3 - Consumer Christianity vs Discipleship

I don’t believe the consumerist model of church is good for discipleship. Safety, security and convenience impede our ability to grow and discover Jesus’s purpose.

Lets look at fish and biology. Have you ever had pet fish before, you put them in a bowl, feed them, clean there water and keep them safe, but they never grow as big as wild fish. They may be safe but they are really really fragile, if you tap the glass or cause them any stress at all they will die. There wild cousins face much more dangerous environments but they are stronger for it.

The issue for the church is that by creating a cushy safe environment for saints it makes it much harder for them to be effective witnesses to those around them and creates an issue for them in how to grow and become more like Jesus.

Erwin Mcmanus in his pod cast “The Gauntlet”, from his series “Living the Original Life” argues that the journey of discipleship is not easy but extremely difficult. He cites the verses in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian where it says:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
(1Co 9:24-27)

The verses clearly state that discipleship isn’t an easy ride, it involves hard training and discipline. I play indoor netball. I know that if because I don’t practice I struggle to improve. But if I was to practice every day and put time in it I would be a much better player than I am at present. To become good at something you need to practice and put passion into it. To be a marathon runner you need to go the distance and train your body for endurance. This is extremely difficult and painful, but has to be done. So too with the Christian faith, if we want to be people who reach out there is going to be pain and hard work. It means learning and practicing the gifts and fruits. If we are not hospitable, the only way we are going to learn how to be hospitable and learn the value is through practice, even when it hurts.

The issue with the consumerist mode of church is that many times it is based around comfort and meeting fixed needs. To get people through the door it makes the church experience easy, feeding easy sermons and easy worship experiences. As I was told by one Christian leader a number of years – this produces McDonalds Christians. Christians who feed on quick easy convenient food which makes you happy at the time but makes you fat, rather than training, eating well and working hard at endurance exercises.

I want to end personally, I am struggling personally to figure out in my life what is that is enslaving me and what is good. Is it ok to buy that next CD, or is it wrong. How am I using my time, resources and energy. Am I using my time to serve Gods purposes and to love people, or do I use my energy and time for serving my own personal needs. I want to live my life for a bigger purpose. I don’t want to be enslaved to stuff or desire for stuff, because I have been freed by the grace of God. I want to give myself to that purpose and live that out in my every action.

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