Friday, April 13, 2007

We Interupt This Blog...(Say No to Faith Conferences)

My parents want me to go to this faith conference. For one, I can't because I'm busy that weekend. More importantly, I don't think Kirk Cameron (of Left Behind movie fame!) is going to have all that much to offer me about my faith.

But here's the real reason that I am concealing from my parents (because they won't understand): why is so much of Christianity about the self and the individual? It's my faith, my Christian walk, my sin, my redemption, my eternal soul. It seems so silly that Jesus would want me to focus so heavily on myself when thousands--nay, millions--of his children are hungry, dejected, oppressed, and in pain. Why should I go to some faith conference that's going to tell me how to be "on fire" for God, when I could use that time, energy, and money in doing works for the poor and those less fortunate then myself? Wouldn't that serve God more, bringing a little kindness to those in need? What does it serve God if I'm so caught up in a cycle of sin and regret that I can't see the more dire situation of those who are oppressed, depressed, and just need a hand?

Jesus never focused on himself. He broke Jewish ritual law, but that wasn't important to him--talking to the woman at the well, eating with the lowest of his society, and bringing peace and love to those around him were what he was concerned about. If we're truly to be like Jesus, as our Sunday-school teachers tell us, then perhaps concentrating on my own soul is not what I need to do. Rather, I should be volunteering, donating my extra time and resources to help the needy, the oppressed, the fellow human beings who need a little comfort in this world, even over trying to save their souls. If a person can't meet the needs of the body, how are they going to even understand the needs of the soul? Souls are within a body, part of a body (not separate), and if that body suffers and is broken, then the soul cannot ever be whole, no matter how much preaching we throw at them. The material realities cannot be ignored for the fanatical assumption that this world matters not and only the afterlife is important. We still have to live in this world, in a material reality--and how many of those decreeing that nothing matters but Heaven have ever felt the pangs of hunger, the pain of knowing you can't feed your children that night? Very few, I would wager, if any at all.

(Wow, that turned into a longer rant than I had intended...)


the secret knitter said...

I think you have the right perspective on this. There's an egocentric strain to some contemporary Christianity that doesn't sit right with me either. Wasn't there a book in recent years that claimed a Biblical basis for God wanting people to have wealth?

That old time religion of hellfire and brimstone has never appealed to me, although I suppose it will always have its place for some. Frankly, it's easier to worry about one's own shortcomings and the sinfulness of others. That doesn't require any real action.

How you live and what you do is likely to have a more significant impact on you and others than any amount of proselytizing.

Donna B. said...

Thank you, Jenn -- that was perfectly said. I got a little shiver of truth when you wrote about "my ... my ... my ..." Christianity as a quest for personal righteousness. We think we're the disciples, but my friend, we are the Pharisees.

Dorothy said...

The Bible and Jesus clearly state that the greatest virtue of all is charity. Jesus preached wherever he went, but at the same time, he was healing sick and feeding the poor. He often encouraged people to give up their material wealth to those in need and follow him.

I do believe there is a time and place for fellowship, but if there is no sense of community and little or no help for the poor from the church or it's members, it's time to set aside the fellowship and head out to behave like the Bible says we are supposed to.