The Christian Rat Race

I have been thinking about a few things recently over the holiday and so this may seem a bit jumbled. But I have been thinking about how our culture is very driven and full of vision and success and how the church sometimes reflects that. I go to a fair amount of christian conferences and listen to teaching and have been a part of various churches and vision is good. I work with students I want them to capture the vision which is to give every student on campus an oppertunity to hear about Jesus. I like this vision, to me its simple (although can be difficult and hugely challenging) but I like this because it comes about in different forms – evangelistic talks, seeker bible studies, meals, coffee chats, random questions at tea and toast. Its great fun and the vision is for every student on campus to meet Jesus and I want people to meet Jesus.

But when it comes to church it seems to become really tricky, I hear lots of other visions and some visions I don’t really understand and most of them are about becoming a better, successful, bigger church. Where we strive for perfect and better Sunday mornings and we paint this grand image of ourselves for the city to see and soon the church is a big machine, running along with its programmes and visions and targets. And there is a place for that and CU and church are different – I know that! But what I have been really thinking about is where do the weak, the poor, the sick and the suffering, the widows and the ones clinging to a thread – where do they fit in? You would say to me that they should be taken under the wing of the church and carried along – yet often I don’t see that. I have seen those on the fringes being hurt by inner circles and those who are sick and suffering who just can’t keep up the pace of church/christian life that’s being painted which leads them to be left behind.

I have been really thinking about these people and they aren’t abstract – they have names and some of them are my friends. Those who feel very much left behind and not able to keep up with the big machine and its vision casting. And it is so easy to get caught up with it too and just think of the end result and think of those that are weak and ill as people who are holding us back – dead weight. I wonder what Jesus would think of that?

I love how Jesus says this: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

Jesus calls the sick, heavy laden, the weak and helpless. He is calling sinners to himself and promises rest. I love how through the OT and NT the heart of the Lord is always for the weak, helpless, widow, sick and poor just like here:

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” Lev 23v22

He never forsakes them, when they come hungry to him he gives them food. He doesn’t say that they should be stronger or they should keep up. He calls them to come to him and he will give them rest. I guess I love this because he never forsakes me.

Yet our culture is so opposite to this, where the sick and poor are problems that should be got rid of and sometimes as christians we can get caught up in this idea and its displayed for the world to see. Its challenged me, how am I going to help those who are sick and poor in my church, my christian friends and along my street? It may mean stepping down from the christian rat race and step away from the inner circle and not be caught up in what ever vision is happening this week. It may mean stopping and slowing down and listening and offering Jesus so that they may have rest. It may mean actually caring for people instead of worrying about targets and numbers. Those are just some of my thoughts and I would love to hear what you think.

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11 thoughts on “The Christian Rat Race

  1. As is so often the case, I wonder if this is a classic both/and situation. If you want to feed a hungry city and help hundreds/thousands you’re going to need some serious, passionate, God-breathed vision…

    • Thanks for your comment Dan! Yes, I am not against vision. I am more thinking about those who are in the church that feel weak, tired, hungry and sick. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to them and gently remind them who Jesus is. You can have both, but we tend to opt for only one of them – and its the fast pace, passionate, heart pumping ones that we tend to go for…

  2. Oh how I love your heart here and your troubled thoughtfulness. I can articulate a big amen to this. I know the best way to get people excited and motivated in something is by giving them a vision, and being clear about what you’re trying to achieve. I’m quite a pragmatic person and figure that anything that helps people to get on board is a good thing.

    But I think you’ve put your finger on the slightly uglier side of this. It’s our culture, so in some ways it makes sense to ‘speak the language’ of our culture; on the other hand, when does our cultural tendency become adrift from the person and mission of God? Sometimes it’s hard to know.

    This was extraordinarily timely for me – thank you. 🙂

  3. Great post, Cat. I wonder if we get in a muddle with this so much because we have an unhelpful divide in our minds between what church is really like – full of shabby, messed up people who are slowly learning to get along with one another and help others out!, and what we want the world to see – a sleek, professional, yet friendly place full of beautiful (inwardly, of course…) happy people… Ok, so I’ve exaggerated to make my point, but sometimes I think that, just as I repeatedly try and cover up my sin and brokenness and put on a good front, maybe as a church we feel the pressure to do that too? To glam up the dated language and make sure the music sounds like something you’d hear in the charts, because looking good is so ingrained in what we think being a Christian is about… The tragedy for us, and for those outside of church looking in, of course, is that we’re missing the best news ever- Jesus is FOR the sinful and broken, and pretending to not need him is the worst mistake we can make. Looking forward to chatting more about this soon! 😀

    • Thanks for your comment Emily! i think you are right, its very easy to forget that we are the messed up people and perhaps you are on to something here – that as a church we feel we have to glam things up and cover our messy lives. Lets indeed chat about this more next week. Looking forward to it.

  4. What you have said is really important but before putting the responsibility on others is it not important to ask yourself what can I do to improve this and not just criticise what is currently happening. It is something I saw a lot of this Sunday at church and it annoyed me due to the fact the the person who was criticising others was not making any helpful suggestions or even helping them in the task they were doing.

    A question for you Cat is what are you doing to overcome this issue of making sure that those who fall through the net are caught and how are you engaging others in the obvious passion you have to help others. It may take you to start something but it does not mean that you will always be heading up the action. You will not be the only one feeling like this but you can be the one to take a stand

    • Hey Christina,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with what you say about first asking ourselves what we can do before pointing to others. I don’t think I have criticised without first looking at myself and asking myself what I can do. In my post I have put some thoughts together on what I have seen and how that has challenged me. If you read the end paragraph it would suggest that I am thinking about how I can overcome these issue: “Its challenged me, how am I going to help those who are sick and poor in my church, my christian friends and along my street? It may mean stepping down from the christian rat race and step away from the inner circle and not be caught up in what ever vision is happening this week. It may mean stopping and slowing down and listening and offering Jesus so that they may have rest. It may mean actually caring for people instead of worrying about targets and numbers.”

      I appreciate your questions to me, but this post had already expressed those questions and I hope when you have re-read the post you may not see it just pointing to others to get on with it, but actually it was more of a reflection and challenge on how I can help and change the situation (as someone who often feels weary and also at times a vision caster), while of course challenging others as well (which the rest of the comments on this post would suggest that) 🙂 I hope that is a bit more clear and I hope you have a great day!

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