A lot of voices out there have been saying in recent days that America, the American church, or Western Christians have been botching up the story of Jesus. Books like Radical and others are reporting that, surprise, the message of Christ has been hijacked! The true story has been muddied by false promises of wealth and ease, cheesy marketing, sub-par music, personal agendas, and watered down religion.
I don’t disagree. I believe that part of Time to Revive’s purpose is to turn people from notions of popular religion to what Scripture actually reveals about God. And it reveals something amazing, something we all want and need and crave.
The faith is not supposed to be whatever is palatable to our lifestyles, ideas, and preferences. We are in a much-needed time of relearning – a time to examine what Scripture really says and means. We have to let go of our prejudgments and biases. And that applies not only to “Western culture” or “America,” but to you and me individually.
John the Baptist came to clear out the way for the Lord. This meant people had to let go of habits and ideas and old ways and personal sins. They were to conform to the light, because the light would not conform to them. That message is not necessarily palatable. Yet we are finding that today. Following Christ is not synonymous with the American Dream or whatever dream it is we prefer. We can’t squeeze a little religion into our agendas; we are to follow Jesus and learn from Him. In fact we are challenged to see life all new, like a baby coming into the world.
The first disciples certainly had questions about Jesus. “Where does he stay?” “Can anything good really come out of Nazareth?” But the reply was “Come and see.” Come and see for yourself. While they had biases and ideas, they were amazed with what they found in Christ. “Truly you are the Son of God!” They found out that Jesus knew them intimately, that Jesus was worth following.
While we are inviting people to look for themselves at Jesus and who He really is, challenging the culture to discard their modified, comfortable interpretations of the faith we have to remember something: that following Jesus is still desirable. It isn’t what we would design, it’s not like the American dream with all the perks. It’s not easily marketed or plastic or quick and easy. But when they come and see, they will see Jesus is exactly what they were craving. It’s not health and wealth, but at the same time He heals and provides. His kingdom is not a political empire, but it is the family we long for. So, surprise, Christianity isn’t what it’s been marketed as – it’s a lot better.