Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Hidden Heresy

I had a great conversation with a good friend of mine who is a youth pastor at a local church yesterday. He and I were recounting some of the most recent activity in the ministries that we are involved in and found a striking, and quite honestly, frightening similarity.

We both have observed in our various ministry capacities over the years a very clear difference between those who have been "in the faith" or "in the church" for a long time, and those who are brand new. The people who "grew up" in church were less likely, and in some cases afraid to express their faith openly. Something as simple as praying out loud was a HUGE ordeal to these people... whereas the younger believers, those who were very new in the faith and had very little discipleship and training were more than willing to do anything they could.

Doesn't that seem backward to you?!

The people who have had more time
in the faith are the less likely to express it...

The individuals who have "grown up" in church,
and who should have a much firmer grasp
on the foundations and truths of our faith,
are the one's who want to stand in the back of the class?

It would also be nice to be able to dismiss this as a singular occurrence or an isolated incident, but unfortunately, I do not believe that it is. All of my experience and exposure to Christianity and the Church has shown this sadly reality to be true.

BUT... before we get all weepy-eyed and distracted, we must ask ourselves, WHERE does this enigmatic dichotomy come from? I believe this answer, like many of Jesus' teachings, is very simple.

- Time "in the church" does not equal time "in the faith"

- Exposure to the church does not equal exposure to Jesus Christ

Being in church doesn't make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car! I believe we have lulled and weened ourselves into a false sense of belief that the sheer passing of time is the measure of maturity.

"Because I have spent more time "in the church" or "as a Christian" (than someone else) automatically means that I am a more mature of a follower of Christ.

You can not really read (and believe) the words of Jesus, and the message of the Gospel and still believe this horrible hidden heresy.

I believe that this is the insidious hidden heresy that is eating away at the core and foundation of our faith today. Individual believers are no longer measuring their maturity by their effectiveness as messengers of the gospel, but by the arbitrary passage of time.

"Lord, please help us to break out of our stained glass castles and our religious reliance on anything else but You. Guide us, direct us, and show us how we can be mature, effective, and productive messengers of hope, faith, and love in a world that is in desperate need of all three. In Christ's name... Amen"

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