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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hyphenated lives

I read an interesting article recently regarding the immigration situation in our country. The author noted that for the first 100 plus years in our country, immigrants came by the millions to our shores. They gave up everything from their old life. They came believing that the America would offer them something better. They took jobs, started businesses, learned the language and truly bought into the American "way" of life. For the last 70 years, things have been different. What we have seen is large numbers of immigrants flooding our shores. More often than not, they came with the attitude that they were bringing their way of life to establish it in America. They weren't going to adopt an American way of life; they were going to change it to meet their needs. What we have ended up with are Spanish-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Irish-Americans--you get the idea. Very few people are just plain, old Americans any more. They don't want to assimilate into being American. They want to change America to be more like them.

Regardless of where you stand on the immigration controversy, I think you will see that this carries with it some interesting parallels to the church today. In the past, when you chose to follow Christ, you changed to be more like Him--you were truly modeling the life of Christ in your behavior. You gave up everything, rearranged your lifestyle and bought into the "Christ way" of doing life.

Not any more. Today, it's more en vogue for us to say we follow Christ when, in reality, what we mean is we are working hard to re-write Him into our way of life. I'm not just talking about fringe churches or nominal church attenders. I'm talking about people who would tell you that they love Jesus but are more content with Him staying in one little compartment of their life.

It is more than a little frustrating (maybe you're starting to sense that from me the more you read) to hear someone say that the holiness of Jesus is their model while they fully embrace a lifestyle that looks very much like the world. Jesus was pure and lived unapologetically for His Father's glory. Us...not so much. Purity is nice but it's just no realistic in our minds. We'll take our kids to church on Sunday to learn about Jesus and make sure they are first in line for the latest sensual, seductive, teen flick (with vampires...there, I said it). We'll talk to them about holiness and excuse away their exposure to poor role models all in the name of being relevant (can anyone say Miley Cyrus or Lindsey Lohan?). We'll proclaim our submission to Christ but refuse to tithe, refuse to serve and dare our churches to ask anything more of us than nominal participation.

We have become like the hyphenated citizens that come to our shores. We are Hollywood-Christians, Madison Avenue--Christians, Wall Street--Christians and Williamson County--Christians. Each, in its own way, reveals an unwillingness to surrender our will completely to God's desires for us.

My fear is that many of us who go by the name Christian may come to the end of this life and find out that, when it comes to eternity in Heaven, we have arrived as illegal aliens.

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