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The Myth of a Christian Religion
10 September 2010
The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion For the Beauty of a Revolution by Gregory Boyd is the sequel to his previous book, The Myth of a Christian Nation.
While not as life-changing as his previous book, this is still a challenging, thought-provoking book that is well worth reading. Just to read the first chapter — one of the best and concise explanations of what it really means to be a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) that I have ever read — is worth the price of the book itself. The second chapter is a very good summary of The Myth of a Christian Nation without being merely repetitious.
In today's article, I will quote some passages from the final chapter of the book — which the author considered, in some respects, to be the most important:
All of us raised in Western culture have been strongly conditioned by a secular worldview. Our natural orientation is toward "this present world." Of course many of us continue to believe in things like God, Jesus, angels, demons, heaven and hell. But as every study done on the topic has shown, our beliefs tend to have little impact on our lives. The majority of Western people hold some sort of spiritual beliefs but nonetheless continue to live much of their lives as functional atheists.If what I have quoted here has stirred your heart, then I strongly encourage you to purchase the book and read the whole thing.
Let's be honest. Most of us don't think about God in most of our waking moments. Still fewer consciously surrender to God in most of our waking moments. Even fewer experience God's presence in most of our waking moments. Our day-to-day lives are, for all intents and purposes, GOD-LESS. This is the tragic affliction of secularism.
Instead of thinking, living, and experiencing reality on a moment-by-moment basis as though God does NOT exist, we're to think, live, and experience the world as though it is continually permeated with God's presence — because, as a matter of fact, IT IS. We're to live our lives with a moment-by-moment awareness of God's presence.... We have thoughts every waking moment of our life, so to take every though captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) requires that we surrender our thought life up to Christ moment-by-moment.
Jesus' teaching that His disciples are to "abide" in Him (John 15:4-10) also entails a moment-by-moment surrender. The term abide (Greek meno) means to take up permanent residence. We aren't supposed to VISIT Jesus on occasion — during special "quiet times" or worship services (as good and necessary as these are). Instead, we're to live every moment of our life IN Christ.
If we confess Jesus Christ as Lord, we will be saved; this is the most foundational teaching of the New Testament. In a consumerist society like America, many treat this teaching like it was simply a good sales pitch. We can be saved — which these people think means we won't go to hell — simply by reciting this magical confession. We're basically purchasing fire insurance with a magical prayer. While submitting our life to Christ and thus having our characters and lifestyles transformed may be highly recommended, these things are not required of us to "seal this deal." We need only believe and confess. For good consumers who are always shopping for the best deal, this offer is too good to pass up.
The trouble is — this is utter nonsense! Think about it. According to Webster's Dictionary, a "lord" is one who "has power and authority over others." So when a person confesses that "Jesus is Lord," they are confessing that Jesus "has power and authority" over them. And for a person to confess that someone "has power and authority" over them MEANS they submit to them. So if someone confesses "Jesus is Lord" but doesn't submit to His "power and authority," they are literally contradicting themselves. Their confession is meaningless.
It's like confessing you're a married bachelor or a round square. No wonder Jesus asked, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things that I say?"
The simple truth is that when the Bible promises us that if we confess Jesus as Lord we will be saved, it's not telling us how to get cheap "fire insurance" by reciting a magical salvation formula. Rather, it's stipulating what kind of relationship we need to have with Jesus to participate in the healing and wholeness of God's reign. This relationship, by definition, must be one of submission. We are "saved" when we authentically surrender our life to Christ, enthroning Him as Lord.
We all make an initial pledge to surrender our life to Christ, but the actual life we pledge to surrender is the life we live each moment after we make our initial pledge. For the only life we have to surrender is the life we live moment-by-moment. Think about it. Our lives are nothing more than a series of present moments strung together. The only thing that's real is NOW.... When we pledge our life to Christ, this is what we're pledging — to surrender each of our present moments to Christ. By definition, this can't be done all at once. It can only be done one moment at a time.
The quality of our relationship with God and of our Kingdom living isn't decided by whether or not we made a pledge twenty-nine years ago — or yesterday. Rather, it's determined by the extent to which we are living out that pledge NOW.... our pledge is without content unless we are living it out now, in this moment — and now, in this next moment.
Unfortunately, because of the magical, consumerist view of salvation that pervades Western Christianity, we tend to assume that our life is still currently surrendered to Christ because we once-upon-a-time pledged to surrender it to Christ — which is why we tend to live largely secular lives, despite our confession of Christ as Lord. We have THEORETICALLY surrendered to the Kingdom, but the majority of our ACTUAL LIFE is lived outside the Kingdom.
Remaining aware of God's presence and surrendering to God's will on a moment-by-moment basis draws us out of ourselves and gives us a capacity to begin to hear God's voice. Now God can begin to lead us to carry out HIS plans and wishes, rather than our own.... This is impossible when our mind is consumed with ourselves.
What matters is not how many past moments have or have not been surrendered to God. The only thing that matters is that THIS moment is surrendered to God — and now THIS moment.
This article is 5th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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