Scott, of Synthetic Truth and a fellow Richmond blogger, posted a really interesting article discussing choices as they pertain to religion and church.
I listened to a podcast this weekend from Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Ca. The message is titled “Comfortable Suffering”. I’d recommend you listen to it, as the message itself has a great meaning.
However, I’m going to focus on one line in it that pretty much grabbed me by the horns.
A pastor from Albania came and visited the United States. While in the U.S. the Albanian pastor was asked by an American pastor, “What’s the biggest thing you see in American Christianity that might hinder us from advancing the gospel?”
The Albanian pastor’s response was, “you guys have way too many choices. If I go to the supermarket in Albania, we’re lucky if they have toothpaste. If they have it, I buy it. [Americans] have thirty different kinds of toothpaste. That is the greatest spiritual problem in America.”
The pastor continued to elaborate his point. ”Your lives are all about you and your preference. Everything is about what you want. And you get to choose your life and manipulate and form your life down to the smallest little bit.”
“What does that do to a Christian? How do you get Christians in America to really die to themselves?”
keep reading…The pastor from Albania raises an interesting point. Perhaps our choices are our poison. Instead of discerning where God wants to use us we cling to what’s comfortable. Even in looking for a church I find myself looking for certain things that I like. There are so many churches around that I’m able to pick and choose certain aspects of them that are more important to me.
I went to West Virginia this past weekend with my dad and some friends. One morning we drove through a poor small town of maybe 50 people. They have one church. For them, church is church. They have no ability to pick apart different stylistic thoughts of church. They go, adjust to what maybe wasn’t normal for them, and then serve in different ways.
Church selection is just one example of how having so many choices can hinder us from giving all of our worldly comforts in order to truly follow Jesus. I’m not against preferences or uniqueness. God made each of us different for a reason. However, I think having too many options and becoming too picky with every aspect of life is dangerous. And unfortunately our society is promoting individual comforts more and more.
I’m trying to be more content with things in life. Being happy with the way things are, even if they aren’t exactly how I would have made them. Adjusting to my surroundings more. And really listening to where God wants me, instead of where I want God.
What a concept huh? I initially identified with this with a single scene. I enter DSW on Gaskins road and find myself baffled by the number of shoes to choose from, but more importantly I find the Male to Female offering to be curiously askew. For some reason I notice this in almost every retail store that I enter. So with no market research in hand, I can tell you that women spend more of that money and retailers know it. Anyway, I think Americans have far to many options in retail and to see this same issue propagated into our churches is a little bit worrisome.
As it turns out, I recently began attending a very new church plant in Richmond. During the process of leaving our current church and going to the church plant I found myself almost disgusted by the “options” and was unwilling to simply bounce through churches until one “felt right”. The truth is this, sometimes God puts you in uncomfortable places for a reason, many of life’s best offerings come from enduring “uncomfortableness”. This is most certainly true when it comes to ones faith, but it does not begin or end there. Our lives are full of choices and it’s my experience that choices are capable of consuming ones life if allowed.
Thanks for the post Scott. That one got me thinking!