Most professed followers of Christ live a “non-toxic” brand of Christianity. That is, their “Christian” lifestyle tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. Their lives exhibit little, if any, self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, or a fear, as well as, love for God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain.
Let me propose five root causes:
1. Religious Individualism – We have come to believe that religious authority lies in us rather than in the Bible or in church leadership. Thus, we have become our own final court of appeal as to what is right or wrong: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)
2. Shallow Superficiality – Most of us have only a scant acquaintance with Biblical truth, because our exposure to, and understanding of the Scriptures lacks discipline, focus and scholarship. If the Word of God is not spoon-fed to us in “touchy-feelie” bite-size portions, we soon loose interest.
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear… ” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4a)
3. Religious Consumerism – Exercising our ‘divine right’ as religious consumers, we buy as much Christianity as we seem to want. The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed. If our present religious “provider” fails to cater to our whimsical fancy, we flutter across town to one that will.
4. Cultural Christianity – Our values, norms and modes of interpreting reality have been entirely emancipated from any dependence upon God. Overwhelmed as we are by the pervading culture, we have accommodated our beliefs to fit in with its norms and values to the point that our Christian witness has lost its authenticity. Thus, the persecution mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:12 is alien to our experience: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
5. Frenzied Materialism – While we slave away at obtaining the “finer” things in life, we openly profess a strong distaste for materialism. Yet we have become amazingly adept at learning how to deliberate an uneasy union between the spiritual and material.
QUESTION: How would you evaluate your brand of Christianity? Is it of the non-toxic variety that offends and affects no one? If so, what changes do you need to make at this time?