If you call yourself a Christian, do you think that you live the life that Christ calls you to live?
This is a tough question to answer. There are many ways in which we interpret Christ’s calling in our life.
Miroslav Volf, writing in October’s issue of Christianity Today, suggests that many Christian believers forget the message of the Bible, even us they attempt to carry out what they see is the calling of scripture. Volf’s article, entitled “Christian Malfunctions”, offers an interesting challenge to modern Christians. Are you willing to walk the narrow path and follow Jesus?
Volf suggests that we lack strength in our faith in two ways. These are idleness of faith and oppressiveness of faith. Consider:
Idleness of faith: We simply sit back, comforted in the message that Christianity gives us. This leads to laziness and a passive sense of satisfaction. We don’t proactively live out our lives as Christians. Rather than providing a good Christian example to our peers, we succumb to the “lure of temptation” where we cave to secular temptations like money, sex and power. As well, we become idle in our faith through acceptance of the systems we live in, most notably the capitalist free market system that demands survival of the fittest and the never ending pursuit of profit. And finally, Volf suggests that we fall into complacency in faith through the numbing effects that it can have on us, as suggested by Karl Marx in his famous statement, religion is the “opiate of the people”.
Oppressiveness of faith: Volf argues that faith is used to abuse others. “Thin faith” is used to focus on religious issues, but at the expense of ignoring the methods that Christianity calls for, namely, gentle persuasion. All too often, violence is used to convince. This leads to oppression, which history has repeatedly shown us in numerous religions.
Volf offers the following suggestion: “We need to build and strengthen mature communities of vision and character who celebrate faith as a way of life as they gather before God for worship and who, sent by God, live it out as they scatter to pursue various tasks in the world.”
If only we could really follow this advice… In today’s society, is it really that easy to turn the other cheek and to offer peaceful alternatives to conflict, even in the face of great danger? This certainly is a tall order, but what other choice do we have? By violently defending our faith, aren’t we providing a terrible witness to those that we are trying to convince?
I think the contradictory nature of fighting for Christ is definitely a great Christian Malfunction.