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.
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!