Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Did you know? That in many places around the world there are three main religions. No one is excluded. You are either Muslim, Jewish or Christian. I know there are exceptions to this (such as India), but I'm generalizing to make a point. When I was studying in Israel for those two semesters one of the realities that I had to come to grips with is that, to the Israeli mind, Catholics are Christians. When I would talk to someone about Jesus being the Messiah, they would immediately follow that up with talk about Mary, relics, the saints, confessions, etc. I remember thinking to myself, "Why do these people think that we are all one religion?" Or put in another way, "Why do they clump us all together?"

Well, again, top news on cnn.com is Warren Jeffs, the "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS. You can read the disturbing article here about him being sentenced to five years to life in prison. Why? Because he was accused (and found guilty) of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marriage to her 19-year-old cousin.

My point in this post?

If I were a Jew living in Israel and had three people groups in my mind (Jew, Christian, and Muslim) I can honestly say that I would not want to be a Christian either -- if what I see on CNN or the News about "so-called" Christianity is what it's all about.

It is a shame that Christianity all over the world is so Godless and dishonoring to the Lord. It's a shame that the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestantism are all gelled together as if we are one big happy family agreeing on everything. To this, I am shamed.

I am very discouraged about the state of "Christianity" in today's culture. For the rest of this post, I am indebted to a college friend of mine, David Gundersen, who noted on his blog last week similar thoughts from his heart:

Referring to his semester he notes some obscurities:

I won’t mention them all, but at least one is the piercing and above-average sense of frustration (euphemism) I feel with more than a few insipid characteristics of the conservative evangelical community. This has almost eaten me alive at some points this semester and has spun me in a variety of directions especially as I think about our future. Often my thoughts have reflected the heart of the arrogant, hypocritical, stone-throwing critic, but I’m holding out hope that the Lord will use the conviction that’s weighing heavy on my heart to stir up the pure passion of the righteous, zealous, Spirit-filled prophet. It wouldn’t be right or safe to say much more at this point. I think I could articulate my thoughts with clarity, but the grace, gentleness, and balance might be a bit elusive. So I need to wait. Suffice it to say that the conviction currently being assembled in my heart will probably end up serving as the foundation for upcoming life decisions that may be different than what I previously expected. Or maybe the same decisions saturated with different values. Either way, the Spirit is painting a clear picture in my mind of the person I don’t want to be. I think I will be thankful for this once the paint dries, and hopefully even before then.

May we step up and be different than the world. May we be true representatives of authentic, biblical Christianity so that people know that these other cults are false and leading to hell and that the truth revealed in the Scriptures are the only way to heaven.
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