With well over 30 years of sincere and faith filled Christianity under my belt, having been involved in many different denominations and meeting many different people, I can safely say that I have never come across any Christian who lives a life full of God’s power and wonders. At least not in day to day fellowship.
You know when you’re having a meal or a coffee with a fellow Christian. Or you stop to chat with someone at a Christian event or even at church. One thing I did find that most had in common is that they all struggled with faith, they all had trouble hearing from God, they all had issues trying to understand scripture and they prayed and prayed for answers to prayer and only occasionally did it ever seem to achieve anything.
However once these people get up in the pulpit and they’ve got other Christians to impress and non-Christians to convert, then suddenly God is “amazing” and they have witnessed “miracles” and their experiences with God are “profound” and God is doing “incredible things” in their lives. Yes. It’s funny how God is so great when there’s an audience to impress – when you want people to think you are super-spiritual, holy, or favoured by God. But when it comes to talking to fellow believers one on one, when you know you could be open to challenges and difficult questions, suddenly things become very standards and average. The embellishment generally goes out the window and you tell it like it is, which in general is nothing very startling or unusual. You know that the people you’re talking to are much the same as you and none of you is any more special than the other. So there’s no need to exaggerate. In fact you wouldn’t want to exaggerate, because you want to be honest with your friends.
It becomes even more obvious just how average the lives of Christians are when you become a leader. I have taught Sunday school, been a leader at children’s camps and in more recent years have run adult cell groups. In fact at times it appalled me at just how weak many of the Christians I had to mentor were, even ones who had been Christians for many years. There was so much neediness. And no one really had anything more special than anybody else.
As a Christian I always believed I put my trust in God. If I had burdens, I put them on him and I relied on him for my strength. But yet here are all these Christians that need support from other Christians. They need encouragement, they need someone to guide them because they don’t know what God wants, they need people to teach them what the bible says, because they can’t understand it themselves. Now why do they need people when the Holy Spirit itself is supposed to be there to meet all those needs? Is God really all he his cracked up to be?
It became obvious to me, after I left Christianity, as to why there are so many needy people in the church who rely on fellow Christians. The fact is, what I had and still have, is inner strength. I can get through the tough times because I have it inside me to handle it. And I wasn’t unique, because there were other Christians who were also naturally strong people who could sort out their own problems. (and invariably those were the ones the churches wanted to put into leadership roles). But so many people can’t… or at least don’t believe they can deal with their own problems, so they have to look elsewhere for their strength.
It's only natural really. All humans, from birth are conditioned to have a need for a higher power and let's face it we need one to begin with, otherwise we'd die. When we're kids, we have our parents. But most of us, when we become adult, move on from them and make ourselves our own authority figure. Others, however don't. So some remain under their parent’s domain. Some look to a marriage partner to be that authority figure. Others look to a fellow adult or friend to take that role. Others, however, look to religion. Many see the church as the ideal place. Of course it has to come down to other people, eg church friends and leaders. Because really the Holy Spirit can’t get the job done.
So when a Christian on a website makes all these marvellous claims about how great God is and how he’s performed so many miracles in their lives and touches them in profound ways, I have to take it with a grain of salt. Because I know in reality, that’s not what it’s like for Christians. And Christians know it too, many just don’t want to admit it.
Oh, they’ll claim that God does amazing things in their lives, but I guarantee you that the majority of the time, these so called amazing things aren’t that amazing at all. But the Christian really wants to believe he’s favoured by God and that God does miracles. And he wants others to believe it too. And of course, they don’t want to look like the only ones who aren’t seeing God doing amazing things. They don’t want to look like the only Christian who’s life God doesn’t touch. So what does one do? One exaggerates. One takes something small and blows it into something huge. Sometimes one might even lie. And isn’t it true that if you keep telling yourself something, you’ll start to believe it?