Christianity Doesn’t Work

Posted: April 17, 2013 in Christopher Hitchens, Current Events
Tags: , , ,
It doesn't work

It doesn’t work

No, it doesn’t.

And no matter how much those smiley mega-church pastors, or those trendy pastors, or those evangelists with their little bottles of snake oil  want you to believe it does, it doesn’t.

Christianity does not work the way your hammer works.  And you may want to hammer in the morning, or in the evening all over this land, but it still won’t work.

It doesn’t do that.

I read a recent article online about a church that was welcoming in their new pastor.  They lauded the pastor as being “energetic and enthusiastic,” claiming that he “grew his previous congregation into one of the fastest growing churches in the denomination.”

No doubt that is an article that tries to get you to think that it works.  It creates energy and enthusiasm, growing and multiplying and expanding.

Expanding influence.  Expanding pocketbooks.

We’re talking about success here.

But Christianity doesn’t do that.  It is not a magic pill that you swallow to become successful.  It does not, as I recently read on the cover of a free evangelical e-book, help you “conquer life.”

In fact, it helps you lose your life.  Christopher Hitchens hated that part about Christianity.  He said it was cruel to expect people to give up their lives in deference to others, especially enemies and those they never met.  This point is about the only point about Christianity that Hitchens ever understood: self-sacrifice and self-giving love is at the heart of the Christian.

And it encourages you to adopt tactics that don’t work.  Forgiveness, for instance, doesn’t work.  It doesn’t automatically repair relationships.  It doesn’t automatically make you feel better or heal your insides.  It doesn’t do any of those things, as a recent New York Times article points out.  Sometimes revenge satisfies more than forgiveness.

And yet, the Christian is called to forgive.  It is but one example of how Christianity doesn’t work in the way the world wants things to work.

Christianity doesn’t work. And that’s going to upset some people to hear it, but it’s true. And I’m a reluctant Christian because so much of our church culture today is about success and numbers and winning and…and about it all working.

The Christianity I practice doesn’t work.  It hasn’t made me successful.  It hasn’t made me wealthy.  It hasn’t made my marriage perfect or my parenting perfect or my manners perfect or my morals perfect.  It certainly hasn’t given me all the answers.  I have more questions then ever.

It has given me a lens, though, to view my work and any successes I might claim.  It’s given me a lens to view my pocketbook and my marriage and my parenting and my manners and my morals.  It has given me a lens to view questions and has encouraged me to ask more questions.

But it doesn’t work.

And quick growth in faith communities, or enthusiastic pastors, or wealthy congregations, or any of these business markers for success are smoke and mirrors covering this truth: Christianity doesn’t work.

Thank God.  So much of what supposedly works in this life is killing us.

And so much of Christianity is about self-sacrifice.  And somehow, it gives life.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. Molly Fraser says:

    Your words are so, so good… healing balm for tired soul.

  2. Laurie A. Sanderson says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, The Peace of Christ Be With You.

  3. That was awesome! Praise God our family is not alone in our thinking.

  4. Marie Teo says:

    thank you, these are my exact sentiments. God Bless!

  5. Bill says:

    I totally agree, but I would say that enthusiasm and energy do impact the work that we are doing in congregations. We should not use the message that Christianity doesn’t work (with which I agree) as an excuse for not reaching new people.

    • Timothy Brown says:

      You’re absolutely right, Bill. Just let us not give any idea to those new people that “it works.”

      We need to be upfront: it doesn’t work. But your life will change.

  6. Hmm. Interesting. Worth some thought.

  7. Heidi Mann says:

    Powerful. Christianity certainly doesn’t “work” in the way we *expect* it to work… in the way *worldly* things work…

  8. Absolutely! God is not our genie in a bottle.

  9. Bryan Jaster says:

    as one of the misfit toys whom jesus continues to tinker with, i resonate so deeply. it’s almost as if i’m asked to trust more, surrender more, doubt more, believe more and follow follow follow. and oh yes, always love and be-loved.

  10. Daniel says:

    I’m glad someone feels the same. I have struggled for over 34 years and attended seminary. I just don’t have what it takes, I guess. It has been a roller coaster of emotional highs, then inevitable backsliding. I’m very tired.

  11. abbeyuk says:

    God bless u sir, i am seen myself in bright light.

  12. pragmatic Christianity has never been invogue. The problem is that you Christians are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and get involved in anybody else’s life but youselves. Why should I trust God or the church when I have to do everything myself anyway. you become born again and then your abandoned and it in a dumpster behind the church. No one should ever believe in Christianity like that

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s