Mind you, this is completely off the top, and very probing on my part (remember this is a blog, not an essay-engine).
What does it mean to be a Christian? I mean a real life, kicking and screaming Christian. As a North American evangelical Christian, let me share with you a few observations that I have had over the years of what being a ‘regular Christian’ looks like to me:
- It seems like most North American evangelical Christians (NAEC) aren’t all that motivated. There is a genuine piety, usually, but more often than not it seems as if being an NAEC ends up being more about going through the motions, and staying pretty surfacey—unless maybe a tragedy hits or breaks into someone’s life (then the relationship with God gets ratcheted up one way or the other).
- It seems like most people use lack of time and the busyness of their lives as an excuse for not spending time or prioritizing time with the Lord on a daily basis; moment by moment. What I mean is that there is a culture of bible study and prayerfulness that permeates (again at a surface level) the NAEC sub-culture, but on a real life level, more often than not, people seem to give in to certain kinds of rationalizations (like the busyness of life) that allow them to justify (even if they still feel guilty about it) spiritual apathy and laziness.
- I would say that most NAEC’s stay at an infant level and depth of spirituality. Again, there is a genuine love for Jesus, but there really is never any growth. Everything remains simple, me and my Jesus me and my Bible (that I hardly ever read) spirituality.
- There is an emphasis on conversion, but not necessarily on conformation into the image of Christ.
My observations may well be off, but I don’t think so (in general). What saddens me is that there is a level and depth available for Christians to enter in to—in regard to growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (as the Apostle Peter exhorts us to do)—that I don’t think most Christians in North America ever enter in to. Most often Christians reserve that level of depth for their pastors or Christian leadership and theologians, but they see no responsibility in growing deeper themselves. And so most North American evangelical Christians remain in a toddler state.
In my mind Christian growth involves a variety of things. It involves a growth in personal holiness before God; it involves a growth into a lifestyle of worship; it involves learning about God in Jesus Christ (so spending significant amounts of time prayerfully reading scripture, and reading good and deep theology); it involves being obsessed with Jesus Christ, and allowing that to penetrate into the family-life of said Christians; it involves being ready to share and proclaim the Gospel to all of those you have contact with, and as the Spirit leads; it involves fellowshipping around Jesus with other Christians; it involves ministering to the outcasts and the least of these among us; it involves sacrifice; it involves much more. In general, I just don’t see this happening for many North American evangelical Christians. Instead there is a pseudo-spirituality at play, and more of a pandering to the culture around us than the Lord over us.
I am not an advocate of a legalist spirituality, whatsoever. I guess I just get confused when people say they love Jesus, and then in an habitual way (even with good intentions), so many of us end up never growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ; or for so many of us, being a Christian becomes ‘regular’, normal, and pedestrian. That’s too bad …
PS. I write this with myself in full view as well; I understand there is a spiritual battle involved in this, I am just hoping to challenge someone to stand up and fight the good fight. There are so many deep riches available for us Christians, I hate to see so many miss out on them!