Friday, April 9, 2010

Christianity + Easy = Cheesy

From Huanyan's blog... good food for thought.
I seriously hope that this provides us some food for thought on how to make godly decision. Have the brother prayed about the situation and choices? He offered us three choices but perhaps that also limited God's ability to work in him and limited his capability to explore more choices. Does that sound familiar?

Thinking about it, I have had brothers and sisters who basically say, when I share about God's guidance in my career path, that they're happy that I'm achieving what I want to do. It gives me pause. Because I know they have missed the most important point of my testimony - that it is not about my dreams, but about me waiting on God to show me what He wants. And God is the Superstar of the whole story.

I think it is a dreadful state of affairs when we water down our faith, and ignore the part about surrendering your all to Jesus and denying yourselves, taking up your crosses daily and following Him... into something that is damn cheesy - a 'Christianity' that talks about "Oh, I'm so glad you've achieved what you want to achieve." Where is the living God of Israel in the whole damned picture? It combines a mild-gentle "Jesus" sentiment with vague humanistic sentiments. And it makes for a damned boring Christianity. In Dorothy Sayer's words:
"This is the dogma we find so dull—this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and the hero. If this is dull, then what, in Heaven's name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore—on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him 'meek and mild,' and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies."

In fact, that is one major reason for Christianity today becoming increasingly irrelevant to today's generation - and tomorrow's. The great German theologian and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, saw this happen with dismay most of his fellow Christians in Germany compromise their faith with the Nazi regime... how Christianity became a mere religion, a very useful accessory to the Final Solution. Ditto for Rwanda in 1994...

Think about it. If we compromise our faith with little compromises today and conveniently water down commitment to God a little here, a little there... we are only a few steps away from being very useful accessories to the next Holocaust / genocide. When the salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer fit for anything, but to be thrown out onto the shit pile. Actually, not even for the shit pile. :)
Jesus: "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Do we desire to seek God for His perfect will? Or do we just want Him to bless our wills?
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'
- C. S. Lewis

Christianity + Easy = Cheesy. I want Christianity, not Cheesy. How about you? :)

11 comments:

Flince said...

"Thinking about it, I have had brothers and sisters who basically say, when I share about God's guidance in my career path, that they're happy that I'm achieving what I want to do."

Yeuann, I don't see anything wrong with what the brothers and sisters said. There is nothing wrong with working in a career that gives you satisfaction.

I know the introductory paragraph is meant to be a segue into the meat of your entry, and the main reference is actually HY's blog post, but linking "Brothers and sisters are happy that I'm achieving what I want to do." into "Watered down Christianity" gives readers a wrong impression, no? You might hurt people who were trying to affirm and encourage you.

This comment meant to be a critique on your writing style but I think its quite important to point this out, since you write regularly. =)

yeu@nn said...
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yeu@nn said...
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yeu@nn said...

Hey Flince! Thanks a lot for posting your comment. Nice to have you drop by! :) Haha, I see your concern that (correct me if I'm wrong) I might be barking up the wrong tree.

Hmm, I think you've a great point in pointing out that I might have unintentionally misassociated the encouragement of others to the bad thing I were writing about.

I reckon I could have written more carefully. But I guess it's not easy to write as clearly as possible when it's very short.

"There is nothing wrong with working in a career that gives you satisfaction."

No, I wasn't saying at all that there's anything wrong with working in a career that gives me satisfaction. (Ah, it's the fault of my writing style that I can't communicate as clearly and precisely as I would like to.)

However, I'm talking about the danger of pursuing career satisfaction solely for themselves without even involving God in the decision-making process.

That's the thing I'm talking about, and which I'm confident my post says clearly (at least in the conclusion).

I guess, to be very frank, if you were to encourage me and say "I'm so glad for you..." but not praising God, well, I'll tell you on the spot that you're not hearing what I said. Because I think my heart yearns to help people see God more clearly, instead of me. A bit like William Carey, missionary to India, near the end of his life, who said in response to someone trying to affirm him (a bit too much in any case) for doing so much for God... "Dr. Carey this, Dr. Carey that! Please, sir, after I am gone, praise nothing about Dr. Carey. Praise only Dr. Carey's Saviour!"

:)

yeu@nn said...

Hey Flince! Thanks a lot for posting your comment. Nice to have you drop by! :) Haha, I see your concern that (correct me if I'm wrong) I might be barking up the wrong tree.

Hmm, I think you've a great point in pointing out that I might have unintentionally misassociated the encouragement of others to the bad thing I were writing about.

I reckon I could have written more carefully. But I guess it's not easy to write as clearly as possible when it's very short.

"There is nothing wrong with working in a career that gives you satisfaction."

No, I wasn't saying at all that there's anything wrong with working in a career that gives me satisfaction. (Ah, it's the fault of my writing style that I can't communicate as clearly and precisely as I would like to.)

However, I'm talking about the danger of pursuing career satisfaction solely for themselves without even involving God in the decision-making process.

That's the thing I'm talking about, and which I'm confident my post says clearly (at least in the conclusion).

I guess, to be very frank, if you were to encourage me and say "I'm so glad for you..." but not praising God, well, I'll tell you on the spot that you're not hearing what I said. Because I think my heart yearns to help people see God more clearly, instead of me. A bit like William Carey, missionary to India, near the end of his life, who said in response to someone trying to affirm him (a bit too much in any case) for doing so much for God... "Dr. Carey this, Dr. Carey that! Please, sir, after I am gone, praise nothing about Dr. Carey. Praise only Dr. Carey's Saviour!"

:)

Huanyan said...

I actually like the way that you start the post. It's supposed to be thought-provoking. And I think I would write the same way too. But I'm generally harsh in my writing and tend to give a lot of critical commentaries on the way we live our Christian lives. That's my style. To write in provocative manners that it provokes emotion, displeasure and shock and also reflection. that's why I normally dun back away from being very unpleasant or even critical or judgemental in my posting.

then again, harshness has to be balanced with grace and qualification. We will need to qualify the angle we come from lah. Which I think maybe Flince has a point there.

yeu@nn said...
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yeu@nn said...

Haha. thanks a lot Huanyan! I like the way you way, direct and heartfelt. In addition, I really appreciate the way you can put in words so clearly to express what you have in mind. It's something I try to learn from you.

Thanks, Flince, I see your point. Plus it is good how you take into consideration how people might feel. As always, this has been one of your key strengths. So, I think I may not have communicated the key point of my post as clearly as I could have.

However, I think I am on the dot when when I say that I have to respectfully disagree with your point.

Because I think what the people said is seemingly innocuous and pleasant even, but dangerous all the same because of the underlying God-free value. As safe as a sneeze. :\ In any case, I know it wasn't really an encouragement per se... more of a nice reply.

Anyway, I already told one of the persons on the spot about what I thought, and my friend understood immediately. Yup my friend reads this blog too, so, knowing her, I am confident she won't be hurt. The other one was a relative stranger. I was surprised... maybe it's because he went through his own job change... and he's older than me in terms of maturity. So his words to me left me thinking. And I realised that I had to object to what he said.

So I think what I wrote about was clear enough as in that what comes out of our mouth during casual conversation is often a good indicator of what values and doctrines one actually lives by. Which made me feel very concerned, and even dismayed. :\

So hope you can see where my article is pointing to... and I hope my article helps as a reminder to stimulate us to thinking further along this line, of what does it really mean to live as a Christian.

Hee. I'm no expert here... I'm just a fellow pilgrim struggling through God-knows-how-many minefields. But hope and pray that this hastily-written scrap would be a helpful little map for my fellow travellers trying to pick their own ways through the minefield. But if you know a better way, do share it out loud!

In the end, everyone of us who loves God has his or her own journey in life marked out for him/her. But our direction, no matter which terrain one takes, must ultimately always be headed towards the City of God. For we are looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Huanyan said...

To add on to the discussion, I have always irked at the claim that Christians should be nice and as such, when we say things that displeases people or turn people away, we are being reprimanded or admonished.

I believe that Christians are called to love, and we need to speak the truth in love. We are not called to be nice. therefore, if i have to speak the truth in love and if by doing so makes people unhappy, I will still do it, simply because certain things have to be addressed or commented. As I qualified, we need to set the context and the rationale why we are saying certain things.

I think the key ultimately is love, not being nice. And the tool is clear communication. We are still not there yet, but doesn't mean we dun try.

(actually I have been trying to emulate Ravi Zac and Philip Yancey, albeit a bit unsuccessful)

Flince said...

Hi guys, was quite surprised to see so many posts in this entry all of a sudden.

Well, if your intent is to write in a provocative manner that stirs peoples' reactions, then I stand corrected! You certainly got my attention right from "It gives me pause." and made me start when you mentioned "being accessory to the next Holocaust" and "not even fit for the shit pile". I thought you were getting over emotional, but if that's the effect that you're aiming for then.. it works I guess!

yeu@nn said...

Ahaha... sorry! Blogger's got a bug or something... I couldn't delete the comments properly. :P Haha, yes, my words were definitely meant to stir people's emotions! That's why I carefully chose the 'damn' and the 'shit'... because I believe both are the correct words to use for the text, the context and the subtext.

Interestingly, I remember reading a few years ago about a pastor who one day told his audience, "There are a few thousand people who die each day just for want of food, and we don't give a **** about this fact - and you are going to be more concerned about the fact that I just said a bad word in church than about the fact that people are dying of hunger needlessly." And sadly, he got some letters from his congregation who were upset about his bad word, but made no mention of the fact about world hunger. :\

Anyway, I read a biography of Bonhoeffer and read about the declinng 'saltiness' of pre-war Christianity in Europe... and how a lot of Christians got so distorted that they actually supported Hitler's policies... wah, heartache man. Also read some of CS Lewis' works e.g The Abolition of Man and That Hideous Strength. And also read the interviews of both the survivors and the murderers in the Rwandan genocide... and read the news about how some churches in Kenya actually added to the tribal warfare...

So many of these horrors were abetted by Christians who had started by compromising their faith in so many little ways, that when the moment of decision came - they no longer had the strength or integrity or even courage to make the right decision in that hour of darkness.

But ... I also wonder... where am I with respect to all these? To be honest, I know I'm far, far, far away from being what God wants me to be. So many little things I compromise daily. So in the end, we really all need God's mercy... and grace. :)

Hee. Ok, think can end the thread here. Haha. Thanks for your comments, Flince and Huanyan! =) Appreciate them lots... shall keep them in mind!