Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Myth of the "Strong Christian"

To begin, a disclaimer. I am not a theologian, but I have been around things Christian long enough to be dangerous. Sort of like having a learners permit. So, if any theologians or doctorate types read this, feel free to dress me down.

Alright. I think we need to watch our language.

There is a completely over used expression that has been bandied about Christian circles for many years, and I have evolved to a place when I have decided that the concept it suggests makes me crazy. The expression is:

"He (or she) is a really strong Christian"

I think this concept is basically unsupported in Scripture, but is very much a reflection of what our modern American culture tells us is worthy of merit. I think the "Strong Christian" is a myth.

Our culture affects us in so many ways, and has permeated much of the American Church - often to the point that it is difficult to discern where "American" ends and "Church" begins. What does our culture teach us are admirable qualities? Think of the great Westward Migration in the US. Taming the West, making something out of nothing. Lewis and Clark. Self reliance. Independence. Self sufficiency. Affluence. Control. Winning. And remember that great cultural theme brought to us by Frank Sinatra, "I Did It My Way". Are not these the characteristics of strength? No cowering in the corner for people like this!

And yet, we who try daily to follow Jesus have a completely different model. A model of failure, suffering and persecution. Lives that often involve great
struggle. We do not have a God that came to earth in a cloud of fire and flame and rainbows and pronounced to us unending success, majesty, control, dominion over nature, and unending happy thoughts. Nor do we have a sugary Precious Moments God. We instead have a Savior who came as a nearly anonymous baby born in a crude barn, raised in mysterious obscurity, followed in his late twenties by a small band of zealots, and who then was crucified nearly completely alone on a hill. On the third day, he was raised again.

Strong Christian? I don't get this concept. What I do get is
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