We all know the “church guy who doesn’t live in the real world,” the hyper-spiritual, hyper-critical, Bible-verse-for-everything, gasping-at-anything church guy. To him, all people are monotypes, all actions are cautious, and all behaviors are condemnable. I’d like to say there’s more complexity or nuance here, but many times there isn’t.
Churchgoers are really good at calling “wolf” on being hated. “It’s persecution, man, they hate me because I got Jesus.” But maybe it’s not your beliefs and values and conservative leanings. Maybe they just don’t like you because you’re a socially inept weirdo that doesn’t know a thing about the real world.
It’s easy to get lost in hair-splitting doctrinal semantics about the End Times or the gift of tongues or female elders. Most of us Reformed guys can easily write a blog post on the latest controversial sermon or how the Gospel needs to be more clearly exegeted (heresy, we cry). We’re a socially awkward bunch at restaurants and movie theaters, when we hear cursing and walk faster by smokers or shake our heads at strangers and say, “They need Jesus.”
It’s so easy to forget that most of the world doesn’t know Tim Keller, has never heard of QT, doesn’t know about the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and cares less about the finer points of the penal substitutionary atonement. Most youth today haven’t heard of Billy Graham, or that he might or might not have made a statement about “wide grace” to appease a secular interviewer. No one in the real world cares.
Our churches don’t make sense because we fight over stupid secondary things, raising all the wrong banners and dying on hills of no substance. We use a strange vocabulary that no one understands but The Club. If hell is real and we’re pointing our cannons at each other, we’re doing Satan’s work for him.
I don’t ever condone ignorance or anti-intellectualism. I only call for an in-the-world-but-not-of mission mentality. Somehow, somewhere, there’s got to be some kind of connection in our lives with totally disconnected people. We can’t just be withdrawing in our safe bubbles of similar thought with agreeable spiritual platitudes and “bless your heart” and routine prayer language. No one outside your church understands some of that spiritualized garbage pouring out of your religious mouth. People want real. They need truth. They need less Greek and more grace.
The one thing I felt led to do lately was volunteer at my old job. I work there several times a month for free. It’s a place where I cannot get away with Christianese. It’s messy, risky, tough, thrilling. Real people with real problems that are waiting to hear real truth. I couldn’t stand to be isolated and insulated any longer. This is hardly radical or praiseworthy; it’s just what Jesus told us.
We must get over this idea that missions is only overseas with a dozen like-minded people in a third world country. Of course that’s important, but we are on mission everywhere at all times. If you’re a Christian, it’s absolutely impossible to be bored. It’s also impossible to be comfortable for long. If you find yourself on the inside looking outside, go outside.
Francis Chan at Liberty University, Nov. 14th 2011 – Live Biblically
“So many Christians, or people who call themselves Christians in our country, are so incredibly weird. And I don’t mean weird in a good way like we stand out as a light unto the world. I’m just saying weird socially. Extremely weird socially. … We just cluster together and start talking about our stuff and it’s most comfortable, and we don’t really try to get into other people’s worlds out there.”
”Christians are like manure. Spread them out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one pile and they stink horribly.”