I am literally sitting here at my computer weeping. I can’t believe it. What has happened to me? I am a professional Christian. I get paid. However, the miserable burning to share Christ seeped out of me long ago. What happened?
I will tell you what happened? I became, first and foremost, an American.
My family and friends might say differently. Who knows? But I know this, I have spent far too long comparing my spiritual life to other Christians in America. Dear God, help. Time to look at Christ alone and fall on my face and repent. The Bible is pretty clear that people who do not know Christ will spend an eternity in Hell. If you have not lovingly shared Christ with someone in the past week or two, then face it, you probably do not believe this no matter what you confess with your mouth. Words are cheap.
I found the pictured book for $0.99 yesterday at Goodwill. It jumped out at me because I have seen this book in .pdf format advertised for free on Twitter the last few weeks. It is one of Francis Chan’s favorites which is reason enough to read it because Francis Chan is a real follower of Christ who is truly rejecting the materialism and greed that characterizes most Christians in the West (left the pastorate at a very affluent church in Southern California to start a house church in urban San Francisco).
When I was in 8th grade, I attended a week-long basketball camp at Baylor University. I loved sports just like the next guy. I won one of the top awards for the entire camp. However, when my parents picked me up, all I wanted to talk about was the African-American young man that I led to Christ. I will never forget the experience. He was sitting on his bed and I was sitting on mine. I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ, how Christ came, died, and now lived to forgive our sins and make it so that we could know God personally and live for Him. I asked him if he wanted to receive Christ as His Savior and Lord. I will never forget that his response was something along the lines of the message being too good to be true. He could not believe God loved him like that. He acted as if I was stupid for even asking. Of course he wanted Christ. We prayed immediately.
As an 8th grader who had grown up Southern Baptist, I lived burdened to share Christ once I found out somebody did not know Him. What happened? I became educated, American, and charismatic, focusing more on spiritual experience than spreading the meta-narrative of Jesus Christ (I do not despise any of these three things in and of themselves).
How many seminary students are there? What if half of them went ahead and left their education behind to go to a place that has never heard the Gospel? Would I be willing to do that if He told me too?
What if you limited how many times you eat out every week so that you have more to give to rescue one of the 16,000 children who die in the world every day from starvation, malnutrition, and/or easily preventable diseases? Or to give to some of the missionaries that Dr. K.P. Yohannan writes about in North India? Or to save women and children out of sex-trafficking? What if you talked to your pastor and begged him not to build an elaborate new building for your church (nothing is wrong with nice, but simple, NOT EXTRAVAGANT in any way, ought to be the order of the day). Why not? If you have to build something extravagant for your people, then you probably need to challenge their hearts rather than accommodate their addiction to comfort, security, and materialistic greed.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I am going to recover my 8th grade heart. Face it, Christians in American are no longer mission-minded.
IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN, THEN YOU ARE A MISSIONARY. Period. If this is not true of me, then either I am a compromised Christian or not one at all.
When Dr. Yohannan wrote the following about his first trip to America after 7 years of grueling, poverty-stricken itinerant evangelism in North India:
“I began with alarm to understand how misplaced are the spiritual values of most Western believers. Sad to say, it appeared to me that for the most part they had absorbed the same humanistic and materialistic values that dominated the secular culture” (41).
A few more quotes for now:
“This ever-present blast of media disturbed me. For some reason, Americans seemed to have a need to surround themselves with noise all of the time” (42).
“I was constantly aware of how large–and overweight–most Americans seemed to be. Americans needed big cars, big homes and large furniture, because they are big people” (42).
“A friend in Dallas recently pointed out a new church building that cost $74 million. While this thought was still exploding in my mind, he pointed out another $7 million church building going up less than a minute away…These extravagant buildings are insanity from a Two-Thirds World perspective. The $74 million spend on one new building in the U.S. could build nearly 7,000 average-sized churches in India. The same $74 million would be enough to guarantee that the Good News of Jesus Christ could be proclaimed to a whole Indian state–or even some of the smaller countries of Asia” (45).
Will you be courageous enough to at least download and read this book with me?
And, will you repent for a faith that, though it may look great to other Americans, is falling so, so, so short of Christ and what our non-Western counterparts embody?
I am repenting and will keep repenting until the Holy Spirit makes me the “salt” and “light” we are left on earth to be. Come on! Let’s Go!