So I mentioned on Monday that today I would blog about the perceptions many people hold in north America about Christians, church and religion. Most of these opinions are negative, according to statistics.

This particular subject is actually something I am extremely passionate about. I strongly believe that God is relevant for today’s society. For years, the age of enlightenment has taught us that we outgrew God. That modern science would replace our need for God, or at least prove He doesn’t exist. As much as I would like to delve further into that subject, I will save that for another time. The point is, the current trend that is taking place, at least in North America, is a moving away from the modern era, and moving steadily towards what people are deeming the next wave, calling it post-modernism. What are the differences you might ask? Well, in a nutshell, instead of leaning heavily on the sciences, and modern intelligence, a new generation is emerging that is extremely spiritual, and hungry for spiritual meaning. Now, you might think that is great news for modern religions, such as Christianity, that work to proselytize new believers to the faith.

Instead, what is actually taking place, is a movement away from traditional religions in their purest form, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, the Muslim religion, and others. What IS happening, however, is that people are finding a sort of ‘choose your own adventure’ sort of faith, mixing varying traditional religious beliefs from many of the above religions, and then some, adding their own ideas & values, forming the ‘god’ that suits them best. A god that most represents themselves individually, forming something that people have best labeled, ‘tolerance.’ It’s the concept that you can believe what you want, and I’ll believe what I want, and we will respect each other’s opinions.

Now, for me, coming from a Christian upbringing, what I personally see out of that, is merely that we have become gods to ourselves as a generation who has been dis-enchanted and disillusioned by the traditional modern faiths of our time. What it looks like from my perception, is that we gave up on something greater than ourselves, and must rely on our own selves instead. The problem with this, I fear, is that… What if we’re wrong? What if there is absolute truth? What if there is a solid foundation to be grounded on? What if we are just floating around believing in whatever we ‘feel’ is best for us, and the same thing happens all over again? Another wave of disillusionment that comes from recognizing that what we have put our faith in (ourselves) is not enough. Then where will we turn? Because obviously, modernism and science did not feed the hunger in our souls for a god. What if our own melting pot of ideas, borrowed from this faith and that, does not accomplish the fulfillment or completion, or enlightenment we are looking for? What will we do then to fulfill this spiritual hunger that is escalating to an all-time high? Whether we admit it or not, we are hungry, as I mentioned on Monday, for purpose, a sense of meaning as to why we are here, a need for destiny, intimacy and hope.

The problem for those who admit they are hungry for something more, and are searching for truth, come up empty, raised without knowledge of the varying religious beliefs out there, many come out empty, wondering… “well, just what IS the right religion, or the one that holds truth?” But most people looking for faith in something often look elsewhere other than to the beliefs of Christianity, because of a very negative stigma the church carries. Sadly, they are right. It is true that some of Christian history is muddied by horrible atrocities done in the name of Christ, such as the crusades, using the predominant religion of it’s time, to justify a lust for power and conquest for control. The same could be said of Hitler and the holocaust. Hitler believed that he was a christian, and was quoted saying, “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the almighty creator… I am fighting for the work of the Lord”. Persecution of the Jews, and murder were never the teaching of Jesus himself. Neither was the quest for power and control and pride. He spoke that the meak would inherit the earth, not the power hungry. He himself, was a Jew, why would he instruct his followers to persecute those he loved so dearly? It is sad to see how religion used for politics and military conquest can become something so totally against the teachings of Jesus.

But more recently, and before I get too far off track, the more current complaints against Christianity and perceptions of its faith, according to recent statistical research conducted by The Barna group, the main concerns people hold of Christians and their faith, are these 6 issues:

1. Christians are hypocritical.
2. Christians are only interested in getting converts to their faith.
3. Christians are anti-homosexual.
4. Christians are sheltered, disconnected from current culture, and therefore irrelevant.
5. Too political.
6. Judgmental.

Sad, but true. As Ghandi summed it up: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Amen to that Ghandi!

My passion, as a believer in Jesus, is to see Christians become like our Christ. Because the message Jesus preached was grace and love, and called himself “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

“For God so loved the world, that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him, shall have eternal life.” John 3:16

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent us his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1John 4:10.

I believe Jesus is relevant to our emerging post modern culture, as a viable option to fill the deep spiritual hunger of this age. My mission: to see the Christians become like their Christ, and to erase the negative stigma the church currently holds as judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, etc, as were mentioned above, and to become a solution to human need, instead of being part of the problem.

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