Hey, Christian: Ditch the Car and Take the Bus

maxresdefaultSince your reading this, I assume you were intrigued enough to find out what sort of rant I’m on now. “Surely he isn’t saying that Christians should get rid of their cars,” you say. Of course I’m not. But I am saying that you should ditch your car once in a while and discover the joys of public transportation.

We live in a happy-meal society that tends to want everything quick and easy. We’re always aiming for what’s more efficient.

So, you hop in your car and head for work in the morning, taking the freeway to avoid stopping at every red light that just seems to be waiting for you to show up. Then you punch-out from your 9-to-5, get back into your car, head home, eat dinner with the family, and then kick your feet up to watch the evening edition of SportsCenter.

Or maybe you’re the Christian who attends every church service, hosts a community group, and can always be found studying the Puritans at the local Christian-owned coffee shop.

So, what’s the problem, you ask? Nothing, if you enjoy existing in your own little homogenous community. But, if you wish to be faithful to tell the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and make disciples, that’s going to require venturing to the other side of the tracks, where Cross-necklaces and fish-tattoos are virtually non-existent.

Recently, I decided that I was going to occasionally start taking the bus to work. In doing so, I have rediscovered my fondness for public transportation and am reminded of, at least, three reasons why taking the bus—especially for Christians, and anyone in some sort of ministerial role—is a must:

1. Able to Meet People Who Aren’t Like You

It’s true. If you ride your local city bus, you’re going to meet people who do not believe what you believe, think the way that you think, or look the way that you look. This can serve as an incredible opportunity to catch a glimpse of reality—outside of the realm of Christendom.

2. Raises Your Cultural Awareness

The more time you spend out of the world, the more removed you are from the world’s struggles, and the less compassionate you become. I find that as I enter in to conversations with people who are as screwed up—or worse—as I was, back in the day, the more I am reminded of God’s incredible grace in my own life. Such a thing compels me to want to learn more about others, in light of God’s own love for me.

It’s easy to say that the “problem is sin” (though it certainly is), yet have not a clue as to how or why any one particular sin manifests itself within a given context. We must learn to become “all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22 ESV). It’s not about compromise; it’s about concerning ourselves with God’s own concern for His glory, and the salvation of the world. And sometimes, that means laying aside our own preferences and presuppositions for the sake of others.

3. Creates Opportunity to Share the Gospel

Just the other day I was having a conversation with a guy in his twenties and somehow my occupation came up (I’m an IT professional). This led to me being able to share my life journey, including the way in which God saved me. He then opened up to me, telling me about how he had wasted his life on drugs (addicted to Oxycodone), and had now been clean for six months. I prayed with him, and for him, that God would make him alive, together with Christ, and we parted ways. Who knows, I may see him at church this Sunday!

The point is, how can we proclaim the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ if we do not position ourselves in a place to do so?

Let’s be intentional.

After all, God was intentional when He sent His Son to live among us, to teach us, and to die for us, despite His disdain and deep hatred for sin and evil. Imagine how He felt being around people like us, who spit in His face daily through the way that we live? (And yet we have the audacity to get undone in the presence of “sinners”).

Let us go, in love, like Christ, and do likewise. Don’t be afraid, just ride the bus!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m not saying that this is the only way to accomplish what I’ve laid out, I’m only merely pointing out what an incredible means the public transportation system can be to further the cause of Christ, and, if nothing else, enjoy some good conversation with people outside of your own comfort zone. 

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You Might Be a Cultural Christian If ______________

50e05749-b250-4144-87b5-a80cebec79371. Worship, to you, is just that part in a church service where songs are sung

“So how was church,” you ask. “The sermon was okay, but the worship part of  the service was awesome!” That is the false dichotomy echoed among cultural Christians. We have “worship leaders” and “worship bands” that are somehow distinct from the rest of Sunday morning’s worship service. While the songs we sing unto God are a part of how we worship, the reality is that worship is a lifestyle, not merely a moment of song and dance.

Paul, beginning in Romans 12, calls us to “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1, emphasis mine). Worship is the way in which we live our lives. Everybody worships, the greater question is, what or whom? Christians are called to worship God, by devoting every area of our lives to glorify Him. That’s worship.

2. You’ve professed your faith to the Census Bureau but never to an actual human being.

If the only time you profess Christianity is when the Census Bureau comes a’ knocking at your door, asking you to fill out a census form, which includes your religious preference, there is a serious problem with the state of the very faith in which you profess.

Christ did not call you for you to couch your faith, but to be proactive in sharing His marvelous Light with others. You are called to be Salt and Light, but how can you season the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if you never open your mouth about Him? People do not “light a lamp and put it under a basket.” Neither should you. Let your light shine in the darkness of this world so that the world will see it and give glory to God (Matt. 5:14-16).

3. You know and love those mostly-unbiblical clichés like “God would never give you more than you can handle”

It sounds good when they say it, and the person saying it certainly means well, but the problem is that such a statement is unbiblical. God doesn’t call us to “handle” anything in the midst of trials and tribulations, but to cast our cares upon Him. We are called to depend upon Him, and to trust in Him. In fact, often times God allows struggles to occur in our lives so that we would learn to lean on Him, and not our own understanding.

At the root of this issue with clichés among cultural Christians is their lack of knowledge and reverence for the Word of God. It is imperative, therefore, that we be a people under the authority of God’s Word, as students of Scripture, like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), testing what others say, and searching the Scripture for God’s revealed truth ourselves. Christians are called to trust in God’s Word, alone, as sufficient for equipping us to live lives pleasing to Him (2 Tim. 3:16).

4. You Church-hop on Sundays and Bar-hop on Friday’s

You may go to church. You may pay your tithes. You may know all the right things to say and do. Heck, you may even have memorized the entire New Testament. But at the end of the day, if your life doesn’t reflect the faith you profess, your faith is dead (James 2:17). Meaningless.

1 John gives us some solemn warnings, and is a great go-to-book to measure ones spiritual vitality. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The “world,” here, is not the same “world” of John 3:16. The “world” in this verse is not talking about the people of this world, but rather the patterns of this world. Simply put, do you love the things of this world more than you love God? Sex, money, entertainment, food, or whatever it may be, are all good things, no doubt. But a good thing can become a bad thing when to you it becomes god. You’ve been saved by faith, for good works. Now walk it out (Eph. 2:10) and be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

5. Christianity, to you, is synonymous with American.

I’m sorry to have to be the one to break it to you but Christianity is not an American religion. It’s not even a Western religion. It was a bloody, Jewish, Middle-Eastern Messiah—whom you, as the arrogant and ignorant American, would probably report to TSA at an air terminal—that established the Christian faith.

Besides, you are in for a rude awakening as the tide of Post-Christian thought comes rolling in from Europe, permeating American society and institutions of higher learning. And it is because of you, cultural Christian, that they will become more effective.

Learn and know the faith that you claim to stand upon. And learn to contend for it, whenever and wherever necessary (Jude 1:3).

6. You say awesome—a lot.

You are not awesome. Your friends are not awesome. That steak from Ruth Chris’ is not awesome. Even that latest edition to the X-Men film series is not awesome. I’m afraid that such a light-hearted usage of the word “awesome” has given way to irreverence for what is truly awesome: God Himself.

Rather, let us sing, with the Palmist, “awesome is God from His sanctuary!” (Psalm 68:35, emphasis mine)

Amen.

 

Obviously I could not fit all of the ways in which cultural Christians manifest themselves into this brief post, but feel free to add some of your thoughts in the comment section!