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Sunday, February 24, 2013

I Tried Christianity - But It Didn't Work

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I Tried Christianity - But It Didn't Work -  Michael J. S. Austin, Ph.D.


This subject is the Christian version of a whole range of topics - from remedies for falling hair to the latest food fad, to deep personal problems, to advice about dealing with garden pests - you name it and someone has a "fix" for your problem. But then there is the response, not every time, but all too often we hear; "Yes, I did what you said - exactly, but it just didn't work!"
Some people are gifted at supplying remedies. They have a remarkable talent for exuding confidence in their specialty. 'Try "X" - it worked wonders for me. And I was a hopeless case, so I know it will work for you - it never fails.'
Apply this to Christianity and we hear people saying, "I tried Christianity but it didn't work." It has become a new post-Christian catchphrase. You tried it and it failed you, so you ditched it. If that's you, you are one of many. Large numbers of people have tried Christianity and found that it failed them. This is not a trivial issue; sometimes it results in near devastation. After all, when something is offered as a kind of cosmic panacea, a universal spirituality that is the ultimate answer to your deepest concerns, that is supposed to have worked marvellously for millions of people, and it fails you miserably - that is a monumental let-down.
A let-down like this leads to two reactions. Reactions that inevitably result in "It may be OK for others, but it's definitely not for me - I am not a suitable person for Christianity", or "The whole thing is such a massive con - it simply doesn't deliver!"
Just what is going on? It's time to take a look at why expectations were boosted to the heights, only to flounder in dismal disappointment. Occasionally this may conceal frustration and anger. So, did we think Christianity was a sort of divine "cure-all" for our human condition and that our expectations crashed when it didn't deliver?
This prompts a serious question. Does this sort of approach apply to Christianity? Is it in the same league as varieties of self-help or self-development? Maybe some people are saying things like, "I tried Christianity: I went to all the meetings, read the study books, tried prayer, tried worship. I got some relief, but it gave me worries I never had before, and I finished up worse than when I started. I thought God was going to help me, but I became disillusioned and went back to my old ways." How do we respond to this discouraging situation?
First, let's ask what exactly do people mean when they say "Christianity doesn't work?" Let's look as the main types of "failure." Quite a number are based on misunderstanding and false expectation. These include "I needed help with a personal problem but it was never solved, despite counselling and prayer", "The Christian bits that appealed to me were meditation and spirituality, but beyond some vague light-headedness nothing changed", "I used to attend church but didn't relate to its culture of do's and don'ts, so I left; any way some of the people were sugary nice, but they seemed to be play acting - I couldn't figure out if they were real or artificial." "Some of the beliefs were terrible, they kept talking about 'sin' and it really turned me off." "I thought it was supposed to make one feel better and lift self-esteem", "Some of the lives of churchgoers were so incredibly dull and boring - I never saw what they got out of it. They were even trying to get me to be like themselves!"
I suspect that in a lot of instances, people have the idea that Christianity is a spiritual self-improvement scheme, a life-style. And therein is a strong clue to why it failed. If you set out with a wrong expectation of what Christianity is, and what it was going to do for you, and those things didn't happen, you will likely see it as a total failure. And this is no reflection on you - you were given the idea that it existed for your benefit and you most likely misapplied it. This leaves me with an admission:
Yes, I accept Christianity doesn't work until ---
1. You discover that it's not a self-applied system of religious therapy intended to raise your self-esteem, and bring self-fulfilment. 

2. It becomes clear it was never intended to 'work' as a sort of counselling strategy to deal with your troubles and produce positive outcomes. 
3. You see that it's not an 'add on' - a spiritual or religious supplement. 
4. You accept that it's not a question of choosing a spiritual product that's best tailored to fit your personal preferences and self-perceived needs. 
5. You see that faith is not some sort of spiritual commodity guaranteed to produce results in your life - relational, emotional and financial. 
6. You see that what you had thought was "Christianity" probably isn't. In a postmodern era this one is very unpopular. 
7. You carefully review why you reckon Christianity didn't work for you - and get clearer insights into the mistaken thinking and attitudes listed above. 
8. You come to grasp the powerful relevance of the early chapters of Genesis and clearly see that Darwinian evolution is an ideology; that "molecules to man" biological development is a belief system, an escape from reality, that is not grounded in evidence-based research. 
9. You begin to see a little of the awesome holiness and justice of God and how we all urgently need to get right with him. 
10. It sinks in how terrible sin is and you see Jesus' death, enduring the penalty of your sin, as wonderful good news!

Then with a whole new way of looking at Christianity, you see how it is God's final answer, his way of raising the spiritually dead, and reconciling us to himself through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, you discover that the living Jesus Christ is the centre - he is LORD. Now you see that you were made for the glory of God!
No, "it" probably doesn't work in the way you originally thought. Now we need spiritual new birth from God to become new creations in Christ. Then, by his grace, we trust him and him alone, who finished his work for us on the cross. And we begin to see how he continues his life-transforming work in us as we live for him, working out what he works in us! (See Philippians 1:6 and 2:13). Sure, "it" doesn't work, but he does and in ways far beyond what you might have expected.
Hello, my big goal is to show that biblical Christianity appeals to serious reason and careful thinking - it is grounded in definite history, invites enquiry and is relevant today. So, I aim to share the good news of Christ crucified, risen and ascended - a Saviour who is worthy of your full confidence. And I write to help you find faith or to strengthen your faith. I share Evangelical and Reformed convictions and have a PhD from Reformation International Theological Seminary for work on the validity of reason. Use these links to my Amazon Kindle titles - all are at very low prices: 1. Darwin's Puzzle - Unravelling the riddle of reason http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007ZE34GG 2. I saw Him die - Viewing Jesus' death TODAY http://www.amazon.com/saw-Him-die-Viewing-ebook/dp/B007TX696U/ref=pd_rhf_dp_p_t_2 Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Michael_J._S._Austin,_Ph.D.  Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/5100407


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