Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Problem with "Casual Christianity."

(Originally printed as an ecumenical column for The News Herald of Franklin, PA) 

How would I describe casual Christianity? Casual Christians are those who go to church--sometimes with GREAT regularity and sometimes just when it pleases them, but who always leave it to others to carry the real responsibility. Casual Christians use the very name of Christianity as a cover for their own unmitigated worldliness and never think they might need to have their own Damascus Road conversion to Jesus Christ. Casual Christians hear the Gospel of God’s love given to the world in Jesus Christ. However, they still utter their total lackadaisical response, “Right you are... but so what?”

“Casual Christianity” appears to me to be the most impregnable, untouchable and culpable approach to a relationship with God that exists. People who have “casual Christianity” have heard the Gospel and will not heed it. They see those who are broken, and yet turn their backs to solutions that will provide healing. They know that spreading the Kingdom of God and the love of Christ is dependent upon all of us, and yet they still will not lift a finger.

When we overlay the ordinary worldly life with the fragile veneer of “casual Christianity,” when we convince ourselves that we are one of the 'better' people for going to church at all, and when we grow a thick and calloused hide on our souls through which no fresh challenges or new visions of godliness are ever allowed to penetrate, we simply become Pharisees in modern dress. When we think we are letting "God into our lives" instead of discovering where we take our place in the entirety of God's vast cosmos it is no wonder we do not welcome others to become who God would have them to be. 

Something terrible happens to us when we let the spiritual challenges of life slide on by. We decay a little inside. If we have indulged in the very dangerous pastime of spending our lives dodging the challenges, the covenants, and the visions of God, we are already beginning to deteriorate inside. We are called to be different. God has placed the treasure of the Good News into our frail, fallible, sinful hands and charges us with spreading it to our neighbors. 

All too often, I encounter Christians who feel no sense of personal responsibility for sharing the Christian Gospel. They say that personal comfort, safety and help for themselves is enough. To act in this fashion is to be engaged in “casual Christianity.”

But what can we do? I am convinced that if we depend and rely upon God’s help, then we can set in motion a spiritual chain reaction. We can change one life at a time. One changed life speaks louder than 10,000 sermons on conversion.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, speaks of the community that is intended to be created as we listen attentively to God’s call. This faith-filled living leads us beyond our “casual Christianity” because we celebrate those things which God intends we share with the whole human family. What will we do to ensure that we are always turned toward our neighbors and the world?

Join us in worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings as we strive to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as his disciples in all we do, growing more and more into people of faith, hope and love, nourished by God's Word and Sacraments.

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