“Houston, we have a problem” was the alleged statement made from Apollo 13 to Houston space command in April 1970. The actual statement differs slightly from that, “Houston we’ve had a problem.” Change one word and we end up with a different meaning.
A few times throughout each year I find myself hearing stories from Christians around the world and the life they lead and I go through this season of reflection of my personal life as a follower of Jesus. This last month was no different. I was at the bookstore and I found a book called, “The Insanity of God.” Just the title alone drew me in and so I bought the book not realizing where it would lead me. As I read through the book I once again became ashamed and convicted as I read about the lives of many of my fellow Christians in various parts of the world.
Not long after I bought the book I discovered that it was made into a movie and so my wife and I proceeded to watch. To say the very least we were left stunned and dazed, cut into little pieces was our happy little Christian life and we started to question the belief that our nation was blessed by God. Now this is the part of the blog that what I am about to say may sound completely absurd and you may disagree vehemently.
As far as my wife and I, we have always considered our Christian walk weird and out of place in the American culture. We live a very simple life, with simple pleasures and our priorities are radical for Christ in almost every area. Most people look at us as passionate and sincere but out of touch with the culture around us. Many look at us with respect but put up with our radical thoughts and biblical notions. So I am not going to be surprised that what I write today will not be widely accepted or will change anyone or anything. This of course is the job of the Father by His Holy Spirit, but we Christians in the western world have had a problem for a very long time. Actually I believe it can be traced back over many centuries.
We have been led to believe that the Christianity we know today is the norm. Many a man and a woman have found riches by touting this glamorous faith that can move mountains and allow God to bless them with the very best, grant them their perfect soulmate, heal their self-absorbed marriage, provide them a career of prosperity, grant them a cool ministry and deliver them from addictions and vices.
I can honestly say, I am still digesting much of this but I see this massive disparity in the body of Jesus Christ. Let me clarify that this has nothing to do with a persons salvation or justification before their God and Father through the blood of Christ. God’s grace is rich toward the wealthy and the poor, the wild and stubborn, the cool and the boring. What I am speaking about is how we possess this faith in Christ after we are born from above. It is the difference between what we do with this new found faith or what we allow this new found faith to do to us. It has everything to do with how we follow Jesus. Is Jesus just one part of our life or is He our life? These are loaded questions but they have to be answered in the light of what we see in the whole family of God world wide. I heard a profound statement a few days ago, “There is no free church or persecuted church, there is only, the church.”
Believe it or not there are many places today in our world where you can literally walk right into the pages of the book of Acts. This is so foreign to our nice package of Christianity that we sell in the western world. Who wants to know this anyway? Be honest, who really will take the time and find out what is happening around the world with the rest of the family of God? We are much too busy with our personal relationship problems, all the family activities that are so vital or how depressed we are because something did not go the way we hoped.
While we are posting on Facebook about our political rants, how someone hurt our feelings, or posting pictures of fun times on vacation there are Christian men and women in prison who are taking tiny scraps of paper and writing down every bible verse that they remember so they can be encouraged through their daily beatings and torture. While many are camping out for the next Christian rock concert there is a brother in a Russian prison camp waiting for the next morning when a few moments of sunshine comes into his prison cell and he can sing A cappella of his love and devotion to Jesus. We consider it the ultimate suffering if we have to stop smoking while many in the family of God in many parts of the world are rejoicing that they were found worthy to suffer death for the name of Christ. We can barely find the time to pray at our own house or at church for an hour while a Chinese house church gathers very early every morning to pray for other Christians around the world before they go to work.
So what is the cause of this inequality in the family of faith? Why do we in America follow Jesus differently than others in the family of God around the world? Is it because God has blessed America? Who really are the blessed ones? I do not have all the answers but in part two I will attempt to shed some light on these questions.
Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” ~ Matthew 4: 8-10