I’ve been having a great conversation about Christianity with a friend who truly works to live out his Christian faith. These folks can be rare to find. If you catch one – listen to what they have to say. We were discussing a Christian song and the beliefs behind it. And how many of the beliefs (in a lot of Christian music) are not in alignment with Jesus.
The song in question was about typical daily struggles in life (could be money, relationships, family, health). A line in the song makes a belief statement about the Word. When we’re down on our luck, it says this, as a reminder: As if every promise from Your Word is not enough. I thought, no, it is not enough. The Word is not enough. It never has been.
We have to actually “do” something (word and deed) with the Word and the promise. We can’t rest on promises. We must act on them – commission. Which in turn will reshape our hard hearts and stiff necks and transform us – that’s the life of a student of Jesus. God will help, but we have work to do, lots.
The song went on and stated, What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise. What if? It’s not a question. It’s an expectation in Christianity. We’re told that’s exactly what they are, and to rejoice! The song is correct in that trials make us stronger. They’re opportunities to grow and learn from God so, as James reminds us, that we’ll be lacking in nothing. Perhaps the song is a gentle reminder of this, but it’s as if trials are a surprise. Yes, I know, I am being over-critical…
Anyway, trials shouldn’t be a surprise. And we can’t just rely on God’s word to save us (meaning we can’t be Christians in name only). Christians are called to be students of Jesus through prayer, study, fasting, meditation, solitude, service and so much more. Without this preparation, we indeed will be overcome by life’s trials. We’ll cry out to God “HELP!” What will the response be? No idea, but this keeps popping in my head – Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord, ‘ and do not do what I tell you?
Christians are not free from pain and suffering, war, death, violence. They are to live among it. Personally, this is what scares me, as it’s so easy to get comfortable.
Christian teaching, and the beliefs that arise from it, seems so far from Jesus at times. I see teaching that misses the mark manifesting in music, prayers, sermons, and books. It’s as if it’s been usurped by another agenda – perhaps one of this world combining all its comforts and expectations we’ve come to know and love. We’re inculcated and raised in a life that says we’re in control, and that we can and should have all our needs met. Jesus and Paul NEVER talked this way – EVER! All this is what Christian scholars call Bad Theology because it distorts the real message.
Yes we’re broken. Yes we’re full of garbage. And life is indeed hard. But so was Paul’s and the others and their lives were transformed into to lives of power. They were so powerful through bodily discipline and obedience they even developed and tapped the power to heal. Christianity has lost this. We’re encouraged to seek and find this life giving power.
True life in this world is found in the physical. Our bodies, our minds, our physical matter is the “created center” for the life of God to dwell in us. It can’t be any other way. We can’t dismiss this for the watered down teachings (such as those found in Christian music) that have spiritualized Jesus and Christianity to its current ineffectiveness, and that have misunderstood our physical realities and the deep powers that dwell there.
When we prepare ourselves daily, and consistently, we can meet trials with a power not our own. We can spread salt and light, and dwell in a new kingdom here on earth. The yoke becomes easy.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson