Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Texas Sized Love Affair

I spent the last week in Texas.  Like the popular jokes say, everything really is bigger in Texas.
Especially churches.
Everywhere I looked there were gigantic church buildings, almost all of which had mega-sized electronic billboard signs.  No matter where you went, one of those larger than life signs would be giving you a bible study schedule, a bible verse, or telling you that God wanted to have a little talk.
Now as most of you know, I travel, serve, and live a significant amount of my life in Mexico.  As we look at the people of Mexico, we are able to see that although a significant number of people identify with the Catholic Church, many are what we would call “Cultural Catholics.”
As Protestants, there are times when we speak almost derisively about the average Catholic and his or her faith.  We argue that even though they are connected to their church, the reality of Jesus is not making a real difference in their lives.  To put it another way, there seems to be a disconnect between Sunday and Wednesday.
Every Sunday millions of Mexicans flow into cathedrals and chapels all across the country, yet on Wednesday, that Sunday experience seems to auger no real transformation.
Driving through Texas, looking at the millions of dollars that have been spent on these massive churches, I was confronted with the same questions.
Are our churches making a difference in the daily life of people here in the United States?  Or, as we say about our neighbors to the south, has the US church experience become just part of the culture for a majority of our people?
Has church here become what my friend Camilo would call just a show, much like it would be described in Mexico for the Catholics?
I’ve been asking pastors here recently a very simple question... “Who in your church is in love with Jesus?”  Not the concept of Jesus, mind you, but Jesus himself.
I wish I could say these pastors were rattling off lots of names, but I can’t.  The last pastor I asked got a little contorted and told me that was a very hard question.
Really? 
Let me just say that if in our ministries, whether they be here in the United States, or around the globe in countries like Mexico, China, or perhaps Uganda, we are not seeing people come into a loving relationship with Jesus, something is wrong.
If we are not seeing lives radically transformed by the reality of the Gospel, something is wrong.
If all we are seeing is people who know a lot about Jesus, but are not passionately committed to loving and living for Him day by day, something is wrong.
I fear that many people here in the US have become little more than culturally Christian, much like the great majority of Catholics in Mexico.
What say you?  
Is it all as my friend Camilo calls it, a show?  Or can you say that the great majority of people in your church are passionately in love with Jesus?  How about you?

I hope and pray you are able to say you have a Texas sized love relationship with Jesus!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Boy! Thanks for calling us out! What a great reminder! Thanks for consistently being "a voice in the wilderness" Dave.

-Michael

Denny said...

Searched all over and couldn't find a like button here, so I'll just say, you pegged it Dave. The Pastor's response can be taken a couple of ways. Either he is blind sided by the question and doesn't know how to address the issue or it is just the fact that we can never truly know what is in someone elses heart. You do point out a very sad and, I'm afraid, a very real scenario.

Dave Miller said...

Denny, there might be another response... he is just unable to consider very many people in his congregation as understanding jesus enough to love him.

What if, as one of my good friends suggests, his church is essentially guilty of the "cult of knowledge" where they know tons tons about jesus, but never really know him?

Michael, it's been on my heart for a while... Texas just brought it out.

I wondered if many of those churches were truly making a difference in their communities.

Harroll said...

Dave,

I agree with Denny and Michael, you nailed it. I know this so well because I'm a recovered "Cultural Christian." Until about 18-years ago I only knew the Jesus my parents introduced me to. But I never took the time to sit down with Him myself. He was like Mr. Johnson at the supermarket. I only saw Him once a week, when it was time to buy groceries ... um I mean go to church.

Then I had a true experience with Christ. And I haven't been the same since. I recognize Cultural Christians when I see them. I see them at church, at the store, throughout the community. It's easy for me to recognize them because, like I said, I was one. I don't like it when one of them has a leadership position in the church. But it's really bad when I recognize one and s/he's a pastor. That scares me! How did they get that position?

Keep saying what others may be thinking but are afraid to say Dave. We need to hear it.

Tom Marker said...

Brother,
If Keith Green were with us today he'd yell out a big "AMEN" as well. His defintion of what a Christian is remains my favorite to this day. He said a Christian is somebody who's bananas for Jesus.

Jim said...

Dave,

All I can say is that I'm glad that I have a heart for Jesus and struggle with the Biblical knowledge. I'm not very good at rattling off a verse without looking it up but I know how to share my love for Jesus. Apostasy in the church is called out in 2 Thess 2:3 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" as well as Matthew 24 in relation to end times. Now my question for you Dave is how close are we to the end times since we are currently seeing what is going on today in this world? Obviously I dont't expect you to tell me a date but how can anyone deny that we are in the end times. You are very right in your article and I agree with you in every respect but that also means He is coming for us soon. :-)

Dave Miller said...

Jim, I am not a worrier about end times, last days etc. I just try to keep my house in order in case the big last day comes before my last day...

Thanks Harroll for stopping by. I think a lot of us have been where you were.

Dave Miller said...

Tom, or as the old DC Talk song said... Jesus Freak...

Anonymous said...

nice idea, thanks for sharing...