Every weekend countless men, women, and children fill the seats of churches all across our country. While worship and preaching styles vary significantly from church to church, one thing that’s consistent is the disconnect between the message of the Bible and the lifestyle of many of those who receive that message. Many of us live as though God held no importance in our daily choices. We live as though we are practically atheists.
The Message of our Society – Take it Easy
Our culture preaches convenience. Our busy lifestyles frequently leave us gasping for breath at the end of the workday. We take an even deeper breath once we limp into the weekend, those precious two days many of us live for. Almost everything we do focuses on convenience – microwave meals, dvr’s, wifi, and the like. We have become so protective of our precious moments of free time that we have relied on innovation to somehow get us through to the next thing. We like convenience.
Our culture preaches comfort. Look at everything we touch in a days’ time – our beds, our driver’s seats, our office chairs, our computer keyboards, our recliners. Not only do we prefer our physical environments to feel nice, we especially want all of our social, business, and spiritual interactions to feel nice, too. If there’s discomfort, we back away and look for something a little more cozy. We gravitate toward comfort.
Many of us attend church because it’s comfortable and convenient. We enjoy the small talk with our acquaintances before and after church. We’ve become familiar with our pastor’s messages, the worship leader’s performance, and the flow of information that comes our way on any given weekend service. Except for occasionally being asked to sit, stand, and shake hands, the average church service doesn’t really ask much of us. Quite convenient, very comfortable.
The Message of Jesus – Come to Me
The message of the Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is far from convenient or comfortable. He asks us to give up living for ourselves, to forgive those who hurt us, to love the unloveable, to walk away from things that break the Father’s heart, to trust God to provide for our needs, to thank Him for everything that comes our way (the good, the bad, and the ugly), to live differently from the world. Jesus’ message is both inconvenient and uncomfortable.
On any given weekend, we are bound to hear aspects of this message. We have the option of taking heed of this message or ignoring it. The disconnect we see comes when the convenience and comfort of church meet the inconvenience and discomfort of the message of Jesus. Because we are so completely geared toward easy things, we continue attending church but choose to compartmentalize the message. We like the nice things of church, but we push the hard things of the Gospel to the back of the pantries of our minds.
A Choice to Make
Every one of us who attends church has a week-by-week, and moment-by-moment choice to make. How will we live? Which directives will we allow to dictate our lifestyles? As they say, the proof is in the pudding. The average churchgoing Christian lives as if they weren’t associated with the message of Jesus. However, Christ compels us to live life His way: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” If we take Jesus up on His invitation, we will discover that the paradox of living life the Lord’s way will bring rest, peace, and true comfort. If we live life on God’s terms, our practical atheism will disintegrate before our very eyes.