I work in a freshman dormitory. It is the only freshman co-ed residence hall on campus, which is actually a lot of fun. I enjoy getting to create relationships with both girls and guys. And in case you didn't realize, I thrive on interaction with people.
Today this one guy came to talk to me. He's come down several times, so it was perfectly normal, but today we started talking about religion. It started because I was talking about Spring Break, and how I don't want to go party on the beach, get wasted every night, make out with random guys, and not remember it in the morning. It ended up being an hour long discussion about religion, not just Christianity. It turns out that he is an Atheist with a tendency towards eastern wisdom tradition, specifically Buddhist.
This conversation had me stimulated for hours. I love love love religious conversation, and this was refreshing as odd as it sounds. As an Atheist, he was not offended to listen to my religious views in the way that I thought he would be. Atheists have kind of created for themselves a stereotype in the eyes of most Christians, just as Christians have in the eyes of non-Christians. Maybe that is one reason why we were able to talk about religion so well; he didn't fit my Atheist stereotype, and I don't fit the Baylor Baptist stereotype. We were both open minded in the conversation, and learned from each other.
There were several things about this conversation that really stuck out to me. One that I am going to discuss is what exactly it means to be a Christian in Western society. This is something that has been on my heart lately, and I have recently talked about it with several friends.
As this guy and I talked about religion, my mind started overflowing with thoughts regarding the subject above. I think this originally stemmed from our spring break conversation. I could not be more excited for spring break! I turn 21 on the first day, but that is not the most important part. I get to spend time with friends, family, and with God. I get to play my guitar, read and sleep. I could not be more excited!
I don't have a problem with Christians drinking... in moderation. I was raised in a denomination where drinking is generally acceptable, as long as you do it responsibly. My parents would drink occasionally while I was growing up. The idea of Christians drinking is one that is common to me. When I came to Baylor, some of my more conservative friends started talking about how they think that Christians should not drink at all. This was something foreign to me. I am fine with them thinking and doing this in their lives. I just hope they are okay with my decision to drink in moderation once I do turn 21.
But for someone to call them self a Christian but then go to some party place for spring break, seems a little off beat to me. Is that really giving Jesus a good name? In Western society it has become so easy to be a Christian that you can slap the title on and off like a name tag. In Western society it has gotten so simple to let your words say one thing, and your actions another.
After I got off of work and finished up my conversation, I started walking to class. I started to think and to pray. I thought a lot about what I discussed in the paragraphs above. Then the same feeling came over me that I was struck with when I was reading the book "Radical". It was an almost overwhelming feeling of guilt. Here I was saying and thinking these things, yet walking through the campus of my private Christian university with my Tom shoes, sorority t-shirt, Juicy jacket, and Vera Bradley backpack. I have an education at my finger tips, which my parents are mostly paying for. I have an apartment, am in a sorority, have plenty of friends, I am not persecuted for my faith, and the list could go on and on.
I am a hypocrite.
What does it mean to be a Christian in modern Western society? This is something that I am trying to learn more and more of. Better yet, what does it mean to be a Christian when the cool thing is to be a 'Christian'? I was talking to someone, and they mentioned that they heard that one should pray for hardships, pray for trials, and pray for persecution. In 2 Corinthians it talks about God's will being done in our hardships, and his strength being made full in our weaknesses. What would Americans do if the religion that they said they belonged to was persecuted? Would they stand up, or would their faith be so fragile and based on worldly things that it would just fall apart?
In America do we really know what it means to be a Christian? Do we know what it means to stand up in hard times? Do we know what it means to get down on our knees when the world is telling us to do anything but? Do we know the true thirst for our Father? What would we do if going to church meant having to risk your lives?
It's more than a prayer you say once.... it's a lifestyle. a sacrifice. God gave his life for us. Now we, Americans need to learn how to give ours to him.