I was tempted to title this, “Lies Christians Tell Ourselves,” but I’ve read too many Christians who seem far too interested in defaming the Church for whatever reason, and I have no interest in that. But I don’t mind a little self-deprecation if it serves to make a point.
Here are some lies I’ve told myself recently:
“Worship is about the way I live.”
“I practice friendship evangelism.”
“My prayer is a constant conversation with God.”
If you’ve been in/around the Church for any extended period of time, these are probably statements you are familiar with. I must confess that these statements are lies (at least when they are coming from my mouth).
I don’t worship with the way I live.
I don’t practice friendship evangelism.
My prayer is not a constant conversation with God.
So why do I bother to tell lies like this? Probably the reasons are twofold.
First, to say such things paints myself in a powerfully spiritual light (as if those who are powerfully spiritual have any interest in painting themselves to appear so). With these statements draped over me, I can feel comfortable in my spiritual intentions. I begin to appear to be a real spiritual soldier who has surrendered every waking moment of my life to the noble pursuits of worship, evangelism, and prayer. The type of man any Christian damsel would throw herself at in the hope that I am not so pious as to reject her affections in the name of asceticism.
Second, to say such things allows me the freedom of never actually following through on my intentions. If I say that I worship with the way I live, there is no obligation to actually set aside time designated for worship. Same goes for evangelism and prayer. Nobody can hold me accountable on these items because they are no longer items; they are a “part of who I am.” This creates a tremendous barrier of subjectivity through which I can hardly be called to account. Were someone to ask, “How do you evangelize?” I can simply respond with the nebulous, “With the way I live my life.” This deflects the question while throwing an impressive “flash-bang” of meta-evangelism in their direction which serves to confuse and astound.
Now, for clarification’s sake:
I do believe that worship ought to be a lifestyle.
I do believe that evangelism is most fruitful in the context of a relationship.
And I do believe that prayer ought to be constant.
In that respect, these statements are not lies. But when I personalize these statements to refer to myself, they become untrue. Because they do not (even on a highly subjective level) reflect the reality of my life. The problem does not exist in these statements. The problem exists in the infrequency in which these statements are followed up with intentional action:
Actively seeking out moments of worship.
Creating spaces in which the Gospel can be conveyed.
Practicing the discipline of frequent purposeful prayer.
What is the point of all of this? I don’t know. Perhaps the point is that I am ashamed of myself for claiming to so many things that I do not adhere to. Or maybe I find myself frustrated in the comfort I find in painting my own spirituality as it is not. Or, it could be that I wanted to write a blog post about how ashamed and frustrated I am with myself so that you would see me as spiritual without requiring anything of me.