Thursday, May 15, 2008

unChristian: Sheltered

The Issue: Sheltered

The Perception: Christians are boring, unintelligent, old-fashioned, and out of touch with reality.

Questions and Quotes for Discussion:

Has anyone ever treated you or someone you knew as stupid for believing in God? They state that your faith is just a crutch because you can’t deal with reality? My experience with Mitch as I pursued theatre in college. Mitch would frequently rage against Christianity and all religions as pathetic ways people cope with life because they can’t handle reality.

Listen to Fermi Project Podcast: Episode 11 of unChristian featuring Margaret Fienburg author of “The Organic God”

Did anything that Margaret have to say jump out at you? She mentioned the generational differences in that older generations tend to have a fortress mentality of pulling out of culture seeing it as evil. They escape into the Christian bubble. The younger generations see culture differently by wanting to engage people and be an agent of change within the culture. Local Example: Invisible Children. Would you agree or disagree with this observation? Should our faith have anything to do with our culture?

1. Christianity and its relationship to the WORLD

A. The Impact of Christianity on American Idol

- The typical “Christian bubble” response to the popularity of American Idol would have been to create a Christian version of it. Much of Christian consumerism caters to this: creating a second-rate “Christianized” product of something that is similar to a successful product in the world. Example: Christian coffeehouses, most Christian music, most Christian radio, Christian boat cruises, Christian theme parks, most Christian book stores, some Christian colleges, etc.

- How has Christianity come through the show this season? Group sang “Shout to the Lord”. Dolly Parton sang a song about Jesus, Neil Diamond sang a song about God’s amazing grace, the contestants sang songs by Switchfoot, and several other songs that had spiritual themes. This is a HUGE example of Christianity breaking through into mainstream culture and making a profound impact on one of the most popular shows of our time. Don’t miss this!

B. Read John 17:14-18

- Is Jesus intention for us to separate ourselves from the world like the Amish?
- Why would Jesus pray for our protection? What do we need protection from?

2. Christianity and its relationship to our INTELLECT

A. Read Romans 12:2

- Describe the difference here between Paul’s use of contrast between the words “conform” and “transform”.
- What happens with a transformed mind?

B. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

- How is Paul encouraging us to use our minds?
- Would he be okay with Christians living out a sheltered, non-thinking faith?
- If we actually use our brains for God’s glory what kind of life does Paul show us we could have?

Just recently we have seen a bunch of books come out speaking against Christianity and promoting the cause of atheistic, humanistic philosophy. Many of the modern-day Christian thinkers of our day have appropriately responded by writing books in response to the arguments leveled at our faith. Check out these books:

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters By:
Charles Colson, Harold Fickett

God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens By:
John F. Haught

The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists By:
Ravi Zacharias

The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine By:
Alister McGrath, Joanna Collicutt McGrath

3. Christianity and its relationship to OTHERS

A. Read Matthew 9:12-13 - Who are we supposed to be helping as a response to our faith?

B. Consider this: according to the extensive research

1. Teens have grown up “in a social setting more violent than that of their Boomer parents.” (p. 126)
2. “More than one-third of children born in the United States are born to unmarried mothers.” (p. 127)

3. “Today’s young adults are more likely to view sexually explicit magazines, movies and websites.” (p. 127)

4. “Young adults experience substance abuse more frequently than do older adults.” (p. 127)

5. “One out of seven admits to dealing with an addiction.” (p. 128)

6. “One-sixth recognize they are already in serious debt.” (p. 128)

7. “One-eighth are lonely.” (p. 128).

8. “One-quarter feel unfulfilled in life.” (p. 128)

9. “Nearly half say they are stressed out.” (p. 128)

10. Many “live with an inner desperation that often leads to personal annihilation. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged fifteen to twenty-four.” (p. 128)

- According to these statistics who would you consider those who are sick, those who are sinners in need of God’s grace, love and forgiveness? IT IS THE VERY PEOPLE YOU WALK THE HALLWAYS WITH EVERYDAY YOU GO TO SCHOOL, WORK, THE MALL, WHEREVER!

- Knowing all this, is it right then for us to live safe, sheltered lives or do we engage with those we know, realizing we can be used of God to help transform their lives and ultimately the culture of those around us!?!


Read Acts 17:16-34 together.

- What was Paul’s initial reaction to what he saw in Athens?
- What did he do then? Did he put up a big sign saying “HELL IS REAL” and walk away? Did he put a sign of the Ten Commandments in his front yard and a Jesus fish sticker on his car and hope that was enough? Did he level all the people with the charge of being sinners? Did he run and hide with only like-minded Christians thankful he was not evil like the pagans?

- Paul took these steps:
1. He engaged in CONVERSATION
2. He exposed his audience to God’s truth through observations of their CULTURE.
3. He accepted both POSITIVE and NEGATIVE responses to his message.

In a response to this chapter in the book Reggie Joiner states that:

“Eight out of ten students participate in church during their teenage years, but most of them will take a permanent detour from active faith at some point soon after they get their driver’s licenses. That’s right: only two out of ten of those celebrated teenage converts maintain Christian belief and practice between their teens and the end of their twenties. The vast majority will cross over to the other side: pronouncing Christianity boring, irrelevant, and out of touch.” (p. 142)

In his concluding remark he says that “We all know that our faith grows when our faith is challenged to DO something.” (p. 143)

What about your faith? Are you living out a safe, sheltered, boring faith that is lifeless? Or are you willing to step out and engage the culture, use the brain God gave you, and reach out to those how so desperately are searching for something to give them meaning in life?

The NEW PERCEPTION: Christians are engaged, informed, and offer sophisticated responses to the issues people face.

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