"Fully-Devoted" and Quietly Ashamed: How some Christian books crush the heart with pressure tactics.
Pop Christianity's message of "commitment"
Popular Christian books come with a clear message: "You are lukewarm at best; on the fence with Jesus and far from a "fully-devoted follower." You're keeping Jesus at arms'-length because you're too busy or too apathetic. You're not fully-surrendered to Christ."
Serving up a diet of pressure, "conviction," and self-deprecation, these pop-Christian books will have you nervously reconsidering whether you're a radically committed "fully-devoted follower" of Jesus or merely a "fan" watching casually from the stands. The author's "wake-up call" will admonish you to "up your game" and "ratchet up your commitment" with the same suffocating judicial strong-arming the Accuser himself delights in. Their message is built upon this core assumption: "Your heart, Christian, is naturally unfaithful and it is our job to point that out to you."
Exposure disquised as truth-telling
These popular books delight in exposing you.... reaching in to rip your spiritual fig leaves off, leaving you naked and branded for spiritual adultery. "Step up your commitment. Get off the fence." The authors use pressure disguised as "admonishment" and "truth-telling" to lay bare your lack of spiritual fervor.
Here's one reader's comment on a recent popular Christian book she read:
I feel this is a great book to get you really thinking about your relationship with God. Am I "all-in"? Am I committed? Am I a fan, or an "enthusiastic admirer," that is running lukewarm for Christ, instead of on fire?
The reader's comment continues...
In all honesty, this book revealed to me that I'm not 100% completely committed. When I'm honest, I put other things before God. Not all the time, but sometimes. Do I surrender all? Do I die to self everyday? It's sad to say the answer to these questions is . . . no. I can be full of pride, I can be selfish, I can be judgmental. I'm a sinner...
Why do authors and pastors write these books?
Can we live from the flesh and get apathetic, succumbing to a myopic view of other's needs? Of course. But the problem doesn't lie in the commitment or faithfulness of your heart - for the heart that was "prone to wander" has been replaced with a thoroughly good...and faithful heart. [Ezek. 36:26]
I think one of the reasons there are so many Christian books designed to expose our lack of commitment to being "radical followers" is precisely because those leaders believe the Christian's heart remains "prone to wander" and therefore prone to apathy and lukewarm commitment. The authors are writing books based upon outdated assumptions, treating a threat [a diseased nature] that no longer exists - like vaccinating people against small pox even though that disease was declared wiped out worldwide by 1979.
Rather than assuming the believer's heart needs scolding and judicial exposure, they need to acknowledge that Christ has decisively removed the old, unfaithful heart, and replaced it with a new heart that will gladly move in love and devotion towards God and others if they'll just stop scolding it.
- "My Story: Generalized Accusation Disorder"
- "Why the Dinka and Nuer Tribes Pull Their Children's Permanent Teeth Out"
- Video: "Prone to Wander Myth"
Note: I don't fault pastors for what they believe - they're simply teaching what they've been taught. However, a refusal to question our assumptions about the Christian's heart will lead to more defeated and less Christ-like followers. A pressured focus on law inflames sin rather than constraining it.