Two Tickets to Paradise ~ Christianity, Capitalism and Spoiled Brats

I’m growing more and more disenfranchised with North American Christianity (the only Christianity I know). I don’t think Facebook helps me. It seems there is nothing someone doesn’t have an opinion on. And it seems everyone is right. I grow tired and frustrated because although learning and challenging your faith is good for your own development, I think for the most part we are missing the boat. This all started with a conversation on my Facebook wall where someone said that only Christians can display the fruit of the Spirit. Their argument was based on the idea that you can’t display a fruit of the Spirit if you support a sinful lifestyle and worship false idols?  I responded like this:

“I have yet to meet a Christian that doesn’t support sinful lifestyles or worship false gods. I do these all of the time. From speeding willingly to lying, from thinking I’m better than others (smarter, cooler, I’m right they are wrong) to worse without knowing. I suspect even my lifestyle is sinful because I spend my money on holidays and a nice house rather the poor and widowed.”

Does Theology matter? Don’t freak out teachers and professors. Obviously having correct theology is a great starting point but it seems like Christians are becoming obese with Theology. We love talking theology; arguing about theology and being right, but is that the point? We’ve become book smart, ready for any debate but in the practicing/living out of our faith we are more times than not useless.

Drive to any typical North American church and in the parking lot you will most likely find nice new vehicles. Go in and you’ll see nice suits, expensive jeans, hair that has been styled with most likely an expensive hair product line. These signs are almost used a sign or metric of how successful your church is. It’s a point of pride for some. I wonder how God feels about this.. In Matthew 25 we see the iconic verse that says whatever we do to the least of these we do to God. I wonder how poor, broken and needy people feel when nice cars drive by without noticing them only to park as close as they can to the entrance of their church.

Mark is a scary book, or at least it should be to North American Christians. In Chapter 12 we find the story of a lady giving virtually nothing to Jesus as an offering. In comparison the rich people threw in large amounts yet Jesus wasn’t impressed. In fact he said they gave out of wealth, big deal. She put in everything she had. A few chapter’s earlier we find the story of the rich young man asking how he can get to Heaven…Why does this verse not scare us as much as it should? If you read the story it’s actually remarkable. A rich young ruler comes to God very humbly. It says he bows and eagerly runs up to Jesus. This isn’t a pompous person trying to show God how important he is. This is a guy genuinely curious as to what it takes to get to Heaven. What does Jesus say? Sell everything you have, help the poor and your treasure will be Heaven.

“But I tithe 1o percent and even give on top of that.” Well how much do we spend on ourselves? Look I’m not coming down on anyone that has money. I’m a capitalist, and have been fortunate enough to earn a comfortable living. This is exactly what scares me. My wife and I give a lot, but we spend a lot on ourselves. Whether it be a house that is bigger than we need (practically every house in North America), buying bigger, nicer vehicles than we need, our clothes, our holidays, the list can seriously keep going, most of us definitely don’t give as much as we could because it affects our lifestyle.

So I wonder if our Theology even matters if we’re missing a key point to our faith. It’s not about our comfort. When Jesus said take up your cross and follow me to the rich man the cross was not a gold plated piece of art for his mantle. The cross implies that this is a faith of self-sacrifice.

Sure we can argue about pacifism, celebrating Halloween, or who the Anti-Christ is but I’m sure none of this will even matter when we are before God. What’s even more scary is I’m sure when I say that we gave to our church and other ministries God might have the same response that he did in Mark. You gave out of wealth…The problem I’m really having with my own lived out version of Christianity is I could realistically give more by spending less. I could take holidays at my house instead of spending thousands to travel.

So what really matters?  Is it your church size? Your sound equipment? Your light show? How cool/nice your clothes are? How much you make? Being comfortable? Having nice things? Knowing exactly what God thinks on any hot issue topic?

I’m worried that I look like an annoying brat to God. Arguing fruitless theological ideas and judging sins and others while in the comfort of my leather chair in front of (whatever luxury you have). Have you ever tried to take something from a spoiled kid? I bet you’re reading this going “well I don’t have to give more”, or “my lifestyle is fine”… Perhaps our Christian culture has made us all spoiled brats. We’ve put capitalism before Christianity. There really is nothing worse than privilege without responsibility.  

Do you want to get to Heaven? Be smart. Tithe. Volunteer. Be a good person. Have nice things. Take great holidays because you deserve a break.  I wish. If you want to go to Heaven sell everything you have, give to the poor, take up your cross and follow Christ. Hard isn’t it.

7 DIFFERENCES Pope Francis Has Made in One Appearance!

    1. Changed the Golden Throne by a wooden chair…Something more appropriate for the disciple of a carpenter.

2. Did NOT want the Gold-Embroidered Red Stole, Heir of the Roman Empire …,NOR the Red Chasuble.

3. Uses Same Old Black Shoes, not the classic red.

4. Uses a Metal Cross, NOT one of rubies and diamonds.

5. His Papal Ring is Silver, NOT GOLD.

6. Uses the Same Black Pants Under the Cassock, to Remember That He Is a Another Priest.

7. Removed the Red Carpet.

He is not interested in fame & applause.

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8 thoughts on “Two Tickets to Paradise ~ Christianity, Capitalism and Spoiled Brats

  1. I was really looking forward to going to Hawaii ….
    Good thoughts though Evan. One thing I read about recently was how we often think that becoming a Christian means converting to morality. Going from immorality to morality. But that isn’t it at all. It is going from death to life. Bondage to freedom. Life everlasting. We are selling Christianity short if it is about being good, or right, or moral. Thanks for the challenging words.

  2. Wow Evan. If that’s what God is calling you to, pray about it and don’t jump into it too quickly. There are a couple of books that might help you as you grapple with what this looks like. Francis Chan and his wife did just that. Sold everything. His wife has a book called Deny Yourself. And then there is a book by David Platt called Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live (forward by Francis Chan). I haven’t read either, but they both look really good and from what I know of the Chan’s they are actually living it, not just talking about it. Also Francis’ book “Crazy Love” sounds like it would be really challenging too.

  3. Crazy Love is a great book and I have not read the other ones Sharon mentioned, but I agree with her statement “from what I know of the Chan’s they are actually living it”. I may just have to look those books up too. 🙂 I like this post, Evan, and I understand the point you are trying to make but we have to be careful about who we lump into groups. I think there are a lot of people discussing theology who are not living in big houses, with multiple cars and going on big vacations. It’s important to be thoughtful and if we’re being honest that is what this post is about…honestly reflecting how your theology is affecting how you live it out. I agree that living out what the Bible tells us to do is hard and a lot of us miss the boat and do get caught up in our own comfort — there is more talking than doing. I am glad to see you are challenged by what the Bible says and by what our culture is saying. I’m pretty comfortable…it’s an unsettling feeling.

  4. Also…facebook or any open forum on the internet feels like a bad place to have these conversations. It’s difficult to interpret the written word in conversation because it lacks tone, gesture and expression. Very few are in the conversation to learn anything. They are there to state their case and convince others to their thinking. If we’re all there with that position no one is open to being convinced and that is how it can degrade into snide remarks, name calling or hurt feelings. There is a lot of pontificating and very little listening. I think people are not generally persuaded in these types of conversations unless they have a personal relationship invested. Sure, most people who are your friends on facebook have an invested relationship with you, but not necessarily with others on your wall. Steve used to spend a lot of time in discussion on internet forums and he found it only helped him to hone his thoughts/reasons, but it did nothing for the relationship or the other people involved. It was an effort in futility and he often came away frustrated more than uplifted. This is kind of an aside to your post and I have a feeling it may not make much sense…I’m trying to listen to kids practise their violin and cello while typing. 😛

  5. I’m not lumping.. Some of the people I know that discuss theology are living parts of it out.. The point I’m trying to make is that the stuff we are trying to live out is really missing it.. Especially in context of Jesus telling people with money (everyone in North America compared to the poor in bible times) is that to get to Heaven we need to sell everything and give to the poor. We defend our pleasures and rights to lifestyle but I have yet to read that in the bible. So discuss theology, but be weary of your financial habits. We’re like spoiled kids that feel we deserve to spend it on ourselves while completely ignoring the needs of others.

    And your side note of Facebook was definitely an aside.. 🙂 But I get it..

    • And yes, I understand your point, of course. I think those who know you will understand what you’re getting at and should feel (rightly) challenged by it. Those not knowing you, may feel there is some categorizing going on without qualifiers, which brought me to my aside…aside. 🙂 Like I said, I like this post. Iron sharpens iron. You’re a good man, and it’s awesome to see you working towards being more Christlike even if it means tough and challenging decisions. Grace and peace to you and your family. xoxo. (and move to Winnipeg and we can start a commune). 😛

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