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Christianity is not About You

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Written by Evi Idoghor


Many people who identify as Christians do not believe in the infallibility of the bible. They say (particularly in the United States) that Christianity is not progressive enough. How can a book written all those years ago be culturally relevant today? This point was raised in the current documentary about Hillsong church in which former members discussed the church's lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Many people who identify as Christians do not believe in the infallibility of the bible. They claim (particularly in the United States) that Christianity is not progressive enough, because of its stance on homosexuality. How can a book written all those years ago be culturally relevant today? These were some of the points raised in the current documentary about the Hillsong church in which former members discussed the church's lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Now, I am not endorsing any of the wrongdoings that occurred within the church, but the purpose of this article is to address some critical issues that exist among people who identify as Christians in today's world.


I used to be a Hillsong fanatic. I came across them (somehow) after rediscovering my Christian faith and was astounded that a church could be filled with so much talent. Their musical creativity drew me in, and their unconventional messages on relationships by then (New York) pastor Carl Lentz were my favorite to listen to, because I had just gotten out of a relationship and desired to do things God's way.


When I heard about their 2016 conference in New York, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Even while broke, I managed to get enough money to travel. I remember meeting Carl Lentz! It felt like I was meeting a celebrity. My friend and I had aspirations of traveling to Australia to attend the prestigious Hillsong college. However, my obsession with them began to wane as the years went by. It was as if I was going through a transition that caused me to refocus my attention on Christ before most of their recent scandals broke out.


One of the critical issues that emerged from this documentary and that I have seen among many “Christians,” is an unconscious desire to separate the church from the bible. People interpret church (and Christianity) to mean many things other than what is written in the bible. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”


To such Christians, church is a feel-good place where they can unwind and catch up with some friends after a long week. It's a place where they are affirmed, loved on, and told that their feelings matter; no matter what. Some pastors also don’t help matters as they foster an environment for such mindsets to thrive. As such, some churches have devolved into a social club where all are welcome, and none are challenged to abandon their sinful lifestyles to begin living for Christ.


I remember going to a church for three weeks and having no desire to change anything. "So, what did they preach about?" someone asked me after church one day. After a brief pause to collect my thoughts or search my mental archive for what I had learned, I responded, "the only thing I took away from the service was that we should wear our masks when hanging out with people." This happened several months after the COVID 19 outbreak. That was when I realized I needed to find another place of worship.


Unlike the woman at the well who encountered Jesus, I had no zeal to run back to my village to announce to everyone that I had just met someone who had revealed truth to me. I had no conviction for some of the things I was (or wasn’t doing). Most preachers (well, most popular preachers today) are more concerned with telling you about how God wants to bless you with material possessions, or how you should realize your dreams. Pulpits have transformed into podiums where motivational speeches thrive, and the truth of God’s word dies. Those who are meant to teach us, are more concerned with becoming social media famous.

 

"These people are not reading their bibles," I thought as I continued to watch the documentary. Even if they did, their attitude indicated that they did not regard the bible as the highest authority or they doubted its authenticity. How can a "Christian" inquire about their church's position on homosexuality (except to confirm if their church is a bible-believing church)? Can a church have a separate view from what is written?


Why has it become so important in some localities (in the U.S.) that a certain people must see themselves on stage - to feel at home, or included, as if Christianity is about us? When Jesus called the 12, they were all men and Jewish. He didn’t go to Samaria to pick a man or woman, because he had a Samaritan audience and wanted to appeal to them. He didn’t choose someone from Rome for representation.


In his sovereignty he chose those 12 and sent them out. Through their message, the gospel has reached many parts of the world. So, why the longing to see someone who looks like you, for the message to be received?


This is what happens when the church runs as a corporation and not a family. When the pastor becomes the CEO and not a good shepherd. When the church becomes about numbers and growth, and not about discipleship. When the church becomes about self, and not about Jesus.


What some people want to hear from the church in America is that - we are diverse, we are inclusive, and we are progressive. They want the church of God to bow to popular culture. If it refuses, then Christianity is a hateful religion. They want to make Christianity about self and not God, when it was Christ who said in Luke 9:23: “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.


People don’t want to deny themselves, that’s the issue. They want to keep all their mess and expect God to be okay with it. It doesn’t work that way – there is an exclusivity with Christianity; you cannot serve God, and still serve your self interests. It's heartbreaking to see in this documentary how those who were lost in the Hillsong (NY) church have become even more lost. I sincerely hope that God opens the eyes of the blind and that many people come to know him for who he truly is and what only he can offer.


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All images are courtesy of Unsplash


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