Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)
- TITLE: PAPER TIGER CHRISTIANITY
By Randy Foncree
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I’ve often times wondered throughout my Christian life, “What has happened to the American church?” It just seems that much of the church has lost its connectedness. The sense of family and community in a fellowship of believers is fast becoming non-existent. We no longer fellowship in homes where relationship is established, we go down to the local café’, which in my opinion, takes away from the openness with each other that we use to enjoy. We go to church and have our religious services, but know nothing, or very little about the person or people sitting in the pew across from us. I have come up with a “title” if you will, for this degradation of the body of Christ that I’ve described. I am well traveled and have been involved with a lot of churches, and have witnessed this first hand. I call this “PAPER TIGER CHRISTIANITY.” I’ve been in churches where you’re fortunate if you get someone to just offer a friendly, “hello!”
You may be asking, “What is paper tiger Christianity?” It goes like this: You walk into this cage, and in the middle of the cage, there’s a tiger. It looks like it could lung forward and “gobble” you up at any moment. You begin to move a little closer to the tiger, and discover it’s lifeless. You feel of its fur, and it feels like real tiger fur. You look in its mouth beyond those sharp teeth, and you see that the tiger is hollow inside. Basically, it looks like a tiger, it feels like a tiger, but it’s not really a tiger. You find out that some artist created something that looks and feels like the real thing, but it’s not. That’s what many churches in America have become.
We claim to be the “family” of God, but we don’t act or relate like we even know each other. We claim to seek first the kingdom of God, but we wouldn’t go across the street to witness to a neighbor, or console a grieving widow. When was the last time we’d shared the love of Christ with a hurting person? When was the last time we got together, UNPLANED, with other church members and just fellowshipped in the word, and shared a meal? We have become so complacent and/or busy in our lives that we’ve squeezed the work of Christ out of our lives, if we even had it in the first place. Essentially, we have lost our first love. We have become lovers of this world and pleasure, more than lovers of God.
I never write something of this nature without offering hope. This was not written to say that the body of Christ is non-affective, or useless. The solution to this dilemma is repentance. It begins with reprioritizing our lives. How I have changed this about myself is I have begun to reach out to others in the church. There are people in our church that feels or have felt in the past, rejected by others. My wife and I have them over for a meal, and we talk about the Lord, and I learn what their concerns are, and even what pains them. The key is developing a heart after God. It’s making the kingdom of Christ first and foremost in our lives. It’s allowing the Spirit of Christ transform us to the point where we have a heart to serve and bless others. There is a hope and solution that will keep us from falling into the category of paper tiger Christianity. That hope and solution is just simply: LOVE.
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