So I’m working on this project. Maybe it’s the World Religions class I’m taking. Maybe it’s just a fascination with how things progress and change.
Anyways, I’m working on this project about how Christianity has changed over the course of the past twenty years or so. I’m starting with a couple resources…mainly my campus pastor, Sarah Baldwin. But her story will be one of many interviews that I conduct over the course of the semester. By the end I hope to get a bigger picture of how my generation is dealing with faith and questions of our purpose on this earth.
It’s been an interesting experience so far. Not only from my interview with Sarah but from some other outside sources. For my World Religions class we have to visit a synagogue, a mosque and a temple. In the past two weeks I’ve visited a Jewish synagogue, a Romanian Baptist church and a Muslim mosque. And boy was that interesting!
Something that’s been interesting in my recent experiences with different religions and cultures is that I’ve noticed a huge trend in religion to strive to be apart from the world and it’s other religions and cultures and beliefs. Islam and Judaism especially, strive to separate from the world and it’s temptations, aiming instead for a pure life lived for God.
Does that sounds familiar? It definitely got me thinking. How often do we as Christians hear that we need to be separate from the world and live purely for Christ, because of what He did on the cross for us?
Then again…how often do we hear “we need to show the world that Christians are cool!” or “If we watch the shows and listen to music we can better reach those who don’t know Christ”.
John 15:19 says, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do NOT belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15 details what the life of a follower of Christ looks like: separate from the world and not a part of it.
But what does that even look like? I used to think it was a bunch of rules. You know the ones: don’t drink, don’t do anything suspicious with the opposite gender, don’t watch PG-13 movies or (God forbid) R-rated movies and don’t listen to music unless it’s Steven Curtis Chapman or David Crowder. (Not that there is anything wrong with either musicians.)
But it’s not about rules. The Islamic faith and the faith of the Jews are highly ritualistic and heavy on the rules. And while being a follower of Christ has rules (I think don’t murder, don’t steal and don’t lie are perfectly reasonable) there is a level of freedom. We have a freedom in Christ to make mistakes and learn from them, to hurt and be hurt, but to also forgive and to grow from that. To have honest, vulnerable, authentic relationships with other people.
And I think that is one of the main ways modern Christianity is changing. We’re exploring more what it means to simply live a life for Christ. To get out of the denominations, and move past the divides and get to the basics. Back to the basics of living because the Son of God saved us by sacrificing Himself. We have a freedom because of that. And I for one, am going to live in that freedom. Fundamentals are the building block of fun, after all.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1