by Layton Friesen
Allow me a little sarcasm.*
Isn’t it wonderful that we live in Canada that’s so in love with Jesus! It makes it so much easier to be a Christ-follower. These days I can basically become like Jesus by drinking Canadian craft beer.
It was not always this good. Back sixty years ago, just to stay faithful to Jesus, Christians attended a poorly produced Sunday morning worship, Sunday School, Sunday night Christian Endeavour service, Wednesday night Bible study, and Saturday morning prayer meeting. Just being a basic Christian took up gobs of time.
It takes so much less nowadays, and thank goodness because I have so much less time. In a society so deeply Christian as ours all I need is a quick drive-by at my favourite megachurch and that’s “discipleship.” At my super-church, there is a whole army of pastors, IT workers, and other technicians packaging my worship experience down to the second.
In other countries where its actually hard to be a Christian, church has to go small, with hard to find, disciplined house groups led more often than not by housewives. Thankfully, Canada is a Christian country.
In fact, our culture is so excited about the Kingdom of God that to only get to Sunday worship once or twice a month seems more than adequate. Whenever my kids have hockey, dance, or we had a busy Saturday, we can skip church because society itself naturally leads my children to follow Jesus anyway. I hear hockey locker rooms are practically a Sunday School these days.
Because our public schools so eagerly teach my children about being Christ-like, I don’t worry at all that my children will spend 16,000 hours in a public school and only about 360 hours in Sunday School. That’s a perfectly common sense arrangement because I know that public school affirms the church’s teachings on nonviolence, sexuality, abortion, and suicide.
And why now expect people to study the church’s theology? Let’s make church about experiencing the embrace of Jesus. Church should be about helping people accept themselves. All this teaching about atonement, judgement, and sanctification seems to assume that Christianity is some sort of narrow gate, some high, lofty path only a few will find. And teach history? Ethics? Philosophy? Get serious.
And because Canada is now so supportive of Christian faith I can give a mere token of my money to the church. Isn’t it sad that in some countries Christians actually have to forego Caribbean cruises because their churches get so little help from their government? If they want Christian camps, schools, colleges and mission organizations they have to give heaps of money to the church. We have a government that so eagerly gives summer job grants and tax exemptions to churches.
Or remember how we used to memorize Scripture? A Christian college professor complains to me that evangelical students now arrive on campus innocent of any meaningful Bible knowledge. How quaint! Someone tell Professor Fuddy-Duddy that in a society steeped in the Bible like ours, you show kids that Jesus thinks they’re super-special and they will end up disciples.
All sarcasm aside now. We don’t live in that kind of Canada and have not for a long time. Let’s get serious about being transformed into a band of trained, disciplined, spiritually intoxicated soldiers of Christ.
*An improvisation on a rant by Dr. John G. Stackhouse, Jr., several years ago at Providence University College and Seminary.