So I'm currently reading "Revolution In World Missions", a book Cassie sent me as a birthday gift. The book is by K.P. Yahannan, the man who founded the Gospel for Asia missions organization whose main purpose is to reach the unreached: peoples who have never heard the Gospel. GFA works on getting national missionaries (that is, missionaries who are from the ethnic groups they wish to reach) sponsored and stuff. In the first couple chapters, he's talking about his journey to starting Gospel for Asia.
To relate the entirety of his story would take way too much space, so I'll skim. I totally suggest you get this book- already, I'm not completely done with it- and read it for yourself. It's an inspiring book merely because of its view of our own churches. He speaks about the contrast between American affluence and Indian poverty: we spend more on a single meal than a whole Indian village would spend in a day! During the start-up of GFA, Yahannan speaks of how he went to find sponsors for these national missionaries. He found it surprisingly difficult. Amidst the prosperity we Americans enjoy, as well as our freedom, we were too caught up in our own lives to help spread the Gospel.
It's a sad indictment.
He came to America to study, and this was his first impression about churches in the United States:
"Religion, I discovered, is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States. Entering churches, I was astonished at the carpeting, furnishings, air-conditioning, and ornamentation. Many churches have gymnasiums and fellowships that cater to a busy schedule of activities having little or nothing to do with Christ. The orchestras, choirs, "special" music- and sometimes even the preaching- seemed to me more like entertainment than worship."
Now stop. Think about that a minute.
I would like to address the problem he highlighted: that of Christians, rather than wishing to serve, wishing to be entertained.
Yahannan is right: American churches all too often wish not to be lights to the unsaved world, but rather to sit in front of their lighted television screens and naively pretend the problem doesn't exist. We go to church to be ministered to, but never minister in our turn. We claim it isn't our job, that someone else is better capable to do it.
Let me present you with a hard truth: God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
If He calls you, there is a reason. He wants you, you and no one else, to accomplish that task for Him. There is no one else on the globe who can do that job- at least, not like you would, and God obviously wants your touch if He called you.
We hide behind our pastors, claiming that, since they are the shepherds, they should lead. But what excuse is that? God has empowered each of us. We have a wonderful book called the Bible. The average American household has at least five of these books- literally, God's words to men. No longer are we in the dark ages where we are bound solely to preachers and priests to give us spiritual direction. We each have the handbook in our houses, if not in our hands! Why are we not using it?
When our excuses fail, we literally turn our backs and go on to other things. Outwardly, we appear to be fine and dandy. We deliberately seek out things that appear Christian. We go to Christian bookstores, we watch Christian movies, we listen to Christian music. But amidst trying to be a Christian, we forget to be Christ-followers.
Christ did not call us to mosey through life, finding "Christian" things to do. He called us to live for Him. He called us to show, in every part of our lives, who we followed, and why it was worth it. Americans are so buffered from the facts of life and death that most of the world grapples with every day. We shelter ourselves behind our entertainment: our ball games and our money, our church pot-luck suppers and our Christian friends who take us out to dinner as we prattle on, and then we do nothing for those who are living and dying, both with and without Christ.
Frankly put, American Christians have begun to see themselves as a completely different entity as the rest of the body of Christ.
We are The Chosen. We belong to a "Christian nation". We are privileged. If we spare a thought for our brothers and sisters who are dying, it is to empathize with them that they do not live here, where they may be free. We perhaps pray for them, but it never crosses our minds to do more. While we spend thousands of dollars on fast food and movies, ball games and races, holiday presents and new gadgets, there is a battle for souls going on all around the world.
And we sit by, and we do nothing. We disregard it as if thousands of people are not every moment passing into eternity. How many of them are saved? How many are lost? How many have been deceived, and will spend an eternity being tormented in a place created by a God who cannot let them into Heaven because he is just and he is righteous?
And at least some of those are dying and going to hell because we, in our lazy, arrogant selfishness, cannot get off our bottoms and go preach the Gospel. We can't even open our checkbooks and our credit card accounts and give. We're not willing to suffer the "deprivations" we might have to suffer through. We let ourselves sink farther and farther into the fog of American-ism, let ourselves wear the blinkers of Entertainment, and drink the kool-aide of Somebody Else's Problem, all to forget that out there, people are dying.
And here we sit. And do nothing. While others die and pay the price for our own laziness.