Why are so many Christians in the 1st world bored out of their wits and souls with Christianity? Why is it that western churches can’t seem to retain men? Why is it that men say going to church is often akin to taking a sedative? I am convinced it is because 1st world living drills into us the 1st world virtue of “having plenty” which in turn allows our faith to slumber rather than be flexed and challenged.
In one pivotal passage Jesus put faith and trust in God within a context of basic needs being met–by God. “Do not worry about what you will wear, what you will drink or what you will eat, for your Heavenly Father knows you have need of these things. But seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.”
But what if you already have “all these things added unto you” in virtue of simply being an American Christian? What need of faith and trust then? How can you exercise faith to fend off worry over where your next meal will come from if your fridge is already filled to overflowing?
Very few 1st world Christians take notice of the fact that that living in the 1st world is a rare privilege that liberates one’s faith to be exercised on behalf of others–not just your own basic survival. This is in great contrast to 3rd world Christianity. If you lived in an impoverished nation a great deal of your prayer life and faith would be exercised towards trusting that God will supply what you need to survive.
It goes without saying that the average Christian Joe in the U.S. never prays about where to get clean water, where his next meal will come from, or when he will be able to provide new clothes to replace his threadbare, worn out attire. So are 1st world Christians “off the hook” so to speak in terms of living by faith?
No, not in the least. Western, affluent Christians are not called to live a life of faith any less than their 3rd world counterparts who constantly find themselves forced to trust God for their most basic needs of survival.
Yet what is a 1st world Christian to do? How does he exercise faith towards needs that he does not have and for provisions that he does not lack? He doesn’t–and that’s the point! His faith is free and liberated to be exercised in other arenas of life that are greater and more encompassing than his own basic needs.
But so few Christians in the 1st world realize this. Sadly, the failure to apprehend the truth that the life of faith is the adventure of life has resulted in multitudes of men whose faith has been domesticated, tamed and sedated. They simply don’t understand that faith is the adventure! Faith is the risk! And the risk of faith is the excitement of the Christian life that staves off boredom! So many miss this in the 1st world.
They simply don’t see their faith as being liberated and set free to be redirected towards taking on other challenges and greater tasks whereby faith and trust must come along and see it through to completion.
It is faith which carries visions and dreams to their fulfillment and realization. God puts a vision in our heart to accomplish something great for the Kingdom and then faith comes along and reminds us, “In the natural this is impossible. You cannot do this alone. Unless the Lord of Hosts comes and intervenes on behalf of this project, this undertaking–it will not be successful. Therefore believe.” That is the risk. That is the adventure we are called to live.
When we ignore this our faith gets flabby, sickly, gaunt and withered. Why? Because we are only going through the motions. There no real challenge or weightiness that applying resistance to my faith in such a way that I have to truly exercise faith.
It’s like me going to the gym every week and only bench pressing 5 pounds and doing arm curls with 2 pounds. It may look like I’m exercising because my movements are correct, but I’m really just going through the motions. There’s no real challenge. There’s no real need to flex.
And so it is with a great deal of men in 1st world Christianity. They go to church week in and week out, but they are just going through the motions. Boredom, lethargy and flabby faith becomes entrenched within them as the greatest adventure one can ever live is slowly put to sleep.