Wednesday, November 13, 2013

a coffee kind of christianity

Two exams down, a headache from staying up too late, and I'm sitting under a tree. My tree. Yes, I have a tree. It's a beautiful magnolia located right at the center of campus. There's a man in a janitor's uniform trying to hacky sack, but I think he's new at the game. It's almost as if he's desperate to find something he enjoys after a long day at work. I understand. The sun is streaming through a tree with orange leaves and it's casting colorful shadows over my boots causing me to wonder at God's creativity. I had a deep conversation with a dear friend today, and it resounded in my soul and thrust me into thought. Therefore, I naturally wandered to my thinking tree with a cup of coffee and my computer to tell you about these probably not-so-interesting thoughts.
There is a disturbing sect within Christianity today. It's a flannel-wearing, C.S. Lewis reading, coffee shop inhabiting, tattoo acquiring, lets-be-different, outdoor equipment collecting type of Christianity (why you need outdoor equipment to sit in a coffee shop I'll never understand). Dim the lights, light the candles (we must set the mood), sway back and forth as someone leads us in a chorus that repeats itself a million times. Where have we gone wrong? When did the focus shift from daily picking up our cross and following Jesus to comfort and coffee at all costs? When did we begin chasing a feeling rather than the Savior? When did we exchange the doctrine of a holy God and an urgent gospel for the study of complex doctrines and the reading of popular preachers? When did the strangest statements become the "deeper" and more profound? 
None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but combined into a lifestyle they beg a question. Is this attractive? Is this what the world is searching for? Is this what the world needs? The answer is no. No, there is nothing intriguing about this new religion. In fact, it's practically stereotypical. This is a faith that creates a self-centered, self-absorbed, self-help, reflective, introspective type of walk. Wear certain clothes, buy unhealthy amounts of coffee, read the right authors, and have a defense for your position on predestination. If you can check all of this off your list, then congratulations, you made the club. The truth is, this is just another way to live for yourself--it only looks better from the outside. I think Paul would laugh from his prison cell. Jesus is experienced best when we follow his commandments, not when we talk about them. Hardship is guaranteed, but therein true joy is found as we know we do not labor in vain. We don't have to be poor, we don't have to deny our "normal" lives, but we redeem the simple things, we give our all when we don't feel like it, we follow and obey Jesus in the littlest areas of our lives. That is what the world needs--not a faith that causes us to withdraw from our reality, but a faith that practically applies to any and every part of reality. May we begin to live out this faith and show the world the hope we have in Christ. I love C.S. Lewis, coffee shops, flannel, outdoor equipment, new ideas, and, yes, tattoos. So lets enjoy it all, but may the world be struck by our outpouring of love, service, and dedication in all the mundane of the day-to-day. 

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