Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Any thoughts?

"Someone once said the difference between American Christianity and Christianity as it's practiced in the rest of the world has to do with how each views suffering. In America Christians pray for the burden of suffering to be lifted from their backs. In the rest of the world Christians pray for stronger backs so they can bear their suffering. That's why we look away from the bag lady on the street and look to the displays in store windows. That's why we prefer going to movies instead of hospitals and nursing homes."

Dave Dravecky, When You Can't Come Back

Discuss amongst yourselves.


MommyK said...

I disagree. My church is filled with American Christians who give thanks for their many blessings and who have devoted their energy, time and money to helping those less fortunate.

That said, I do think there are those who think others should feel guilty for their blessings. I have a good job, wonderful family, a nice house and a nice car and we always have enoigh food. But i don't feel guilty. I feel blessed and thankful.

anika said...

??? I didn't quite get the "should feel guilty for their blessings" or whatever that Mommyk was referring to. But I do pray for a stronger back.... praying for the struggle to go away is sort of pointless, as it is so intermixed with gifts with God that it rather seems as if it IS rather one and perhaps I may be MISSING the point... so praying to endure, praying to be gracious in the midst, to represent HIM, to glorify Him, to not drown, to not deny HIM.... has become the prayer... is that what your getting at?
as for blessings, I NEVER associate guilt with them, only and always thanksgiving, utter and always my heart is so thankful.

MommyK said...

OK, let me see if I can explain what I meant better.

There are some people who think that if you spend money on yourself or have something that would be a luxury in many parts of the world (like a nice house or a new car or an expensive purse or organic food), then you're not a good Christian. That unless you give away everything you don't absolutely need, then you are selfish. That if you buy yourself a new purse, you should feel guilty for doing so because people in Africa are dying. That's what I was getting at.

It's also something I disagree with. Being a good Christian is about much more than writing checks to charity.

Monica said...

Our culture does all it can to erase any sort of pain that might occur. We have everything from medication to mass media to divert us from reality. This is the world at large.

For many this probably affects their view of prayer as just another quick fix. But for those who have walked with God through suffering, prayer is a lifeline and the means by which God enables endurance and growth.

I love the Westminster Shorter Catechism on this:

What is prayer?

Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

I think it's also important to note that suffering comes in many, many forms. It is equally devastating, but hidden by many. This is especially true in our country, I believe.

Being willing to minister to this kind of suffering takes much time, prayer and energy.

Rebecca said...

I think, for many Americans (Christians included), suffering is not part of our everyday lives, which is why, when confronted with it {bag lady, hospital, nursing home} the typical American Christian does not know how to respond. I see/hear this frequently amongst friends or blogs I read where someone is experiencing a truly devastating situation & others "just don't know what to do". I think Christians in other parts of the world {in this case, I am meaning countries significantly less affluent than the US} are more accustomed to suffering in general: poverty, persecution, hunger.

Of course, I *would* rather go to the movies than go stare suffering in the face. Does that make me a bad Christian?