Monday, May 5, 2003

Destructive Christianity Continued

Timing can present itself in interesting ways in life. I arrived in New York City this past Friday and on Saturday I wrote about something Tim Keller, the pastor at Redeemer Church in Manhattan, said in one of his past sermons. Well, I visited my old church Sunday and Tim Keller's sermon was on The Rich and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Without going into an overview of the sermon, which was excellent, a few things stuck out and was relevant to my prior blog. He talked about how The Rich Man didn't get into heaven not because he was rich, but because it consumed him. It was his motivation for being and source of his pride to the point that he despised those without wealth. He despised and looked down upon the poor. Going back to my prior blog and about the church leaders, their pride was so overwhelming that they despised those who would not live up to their narrowly focused set of ideals. Their set of values and Christian doctrine were their "riches" that consumed them.

A disappointing continuation of that situation was that woman member wanted to join a new branch the church was starting in the city. The two leaders that held this self-righteous grudge against her were part of the leadership group assisting a pastor for the new church plant. They told the pastor that if she attends the new church that they would quit and not help out. It's amusing because their self-righteousness blinded them to the actually mission of such a church. I assume they are seeking to attract unchurched people and those seeking out some meaning from Christianity. Their target group are probably far worse "sinners" or people from their worldview, but they cannot even accept a willing but "lesser" person from their own home church. If I was the pastor, I would have asked them to leave for even asking such a thing. Clearly their focus and heart is not in the right place and will in the end harm the environment and chemistry of the church body. Maybe even such a poor Christian as I would be more helpful. Probably not.

The last part of Tim Keller's sermon discussed how miracles and amazing signs would not convert someone to Christianity unless they actually knew the "whys" of their faith. In the Bible passage, the rich man asks Father Abraham to warn his brothers of his fate in hell.

"They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."

"And he said, No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'

"But he said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

Basically, Keller was saying that even if Christ were to rise from the dead in front of some people today, it wouldn't matter but for a brief moment in life. They might have an emotional, temporary experience that "converts" them, but they won't know the reasons or basis of their faith. These points reinforce my thoughts on how shallow many people's faith and beliefs were which led to their quick rejection of Christianity once it was challenged intellectually or within their lifestyle, especially within the Korean American church.

As people explore Christianity, they need to poke, prod, and examine all aspects of the doctrine and ask questions upon questions on whether it is flawless religion. I'm biased because I believe I have and my faith has never wavered. I am in a weak period of my life where I struggle to submit my will to God and seek out His desires instead of my own, but I never doubt any aspect of the completeness of the Bible and Christ's life. I joke around with my friends that I am a "heathen", but I take full responsibility for my lack of effort in my Christian life. The reality I've come to is that living such a life is the most difficult thing I will ever encounter in my life.

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