Behind the Music: Empty Faith

I am disgusted with what I call “American Christianity”. I was at a youth camp last week, and our speaker brought to our attention a recent poll of non-Christians in America.  The poll revealed 3 of the top feelings toward Christians in America. They are:

  • Christians are judgemental
  • Christians are gay-haters
  • Christians are close-minded and intolerant

In other words – we’re no more than hypocrites.

There really is no argument against data like that. This is how we as a Christian community are viewed.  In my opinion, we’ve earned this reputation.  Other statistics show that the general lifestyle of a professing Christian in America does not at all differ from a non-Christian. Things like divorce rates and such are identical. The word “Christian” means “little Christ” – or to be Christ-like. In my opinion, we as Christians are way off the mark when it comes to actually doing what we are supposed to do – to be like Christ.

I recently had a conversation with a fellow youth pastor. It was one of those talks where you kind of come to an epiphany during the conversation. I’d never verbalized it in my life before, but at the end of our talk, I told him, “My greatest fear is that I’ll become like the Pharisees. That I’ll become like the religious leaders that Jesus hated”. Jesus called them “Sons of hell”.  He literally pointed to a group of pastors/church leaders and said, “You are sons of hell”.  Powerful.  It was because they cared more about how they appeared to those around them than what was inside their hearts.  They had empty faith.  The reason I said I was afraid of becoming like the Pharisees is because, while I truly and genuinely try to live like Christ, many times I don’t. I’ll say that I forgive, but I’ll hold a grudge. I’ll say I care for the poor, but I live in a nice house in the suburbs and hardly ever think about people who have less than I do. I’ll say I want to help the oppressed – the helpless, but I sometimes I feel like I don’t really do anything about social justice or equality.  There is a struggle inside of me.  There really is a struggle inside of all of us.  We are born with a sin nature.  Yet, we are also created in God’s image – in the image of a perfect, loving, and merciful God.  And we are called to live a life like Christ.

Last week, at camp in Colorado, I wrote a song called “Empty Faith”.  This song is many things.  It’s a confession – an admission of guilt.  It’s a portrayal of the struggle between sin and love that lives inside me.  It’s a prayer – a petition to God to change my heart and make me more like Him.

Here are the lyrics:

We hold our Bibles high
And we say we’re right
We’ll give you the perfect lines then run and hide

Can’t we see we’ve lost the way
Can’t we see that it’s all just fake
As long as they’re watching everything’s fine

Where are you in all of this
We use your name but destroy your image

I say I’m different but I just look the same
So I am over all this empty faith
I’ve been changed by a love I can’t explain
So I am over all this empty faith

We’ll white-wash the outside
We’ll do everything right
As long as they’re watching everything’s fine

You ask for more
You search the heart of me
Change the heart of me

May we all have a desire to truly and honestly live like “little Christs”.  I encourage you to really examine your own heart, and then ask God to make it more like His.

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