Jason Illian is a motivational speaker/author of sorts-- he goes around to churches and other places and talks about all kinds of topics. I got on facebook today to find this quote from him and it got me thinking (and perhaps agreeing on some points). I just wanted to share.
Letter of Resignation by author Jason Illian
I'm done. Finished. Completely spent. I'm tired of trying to earn my way into the church and the Christian sub-culture. Salvation may be free, but trying to win your approval has cost me my heart.
If you were preaching just Christ and Him crucified, I'd stay and apply our Lord's tough lessons to my life. But the agenda has changed. Somewhere along the way, somewhere inside the four walls of the church, things were added and Christ just wasn't enough. It's not enough to make Jesus your Lord and Savior anymore—you have to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and act a certain way, or the very ones who are supposed to love you will disown you. Or at least judge you. Read this version of the bible, go to this church service, speak this lingo, wear these clothes or...well..."we'll pray for you."
Don't you see that all your rules and regulations are just too much to swallow? Just like the Pharisees, you have included all these meaningless and minor amendments to the Word. I know that I'm sinful, and I know that I need a Savior. But you are not asking us to just accept Jesus. You are asking us to accept Jesus and the church’s view on homosexuality, the media, the war in Iraq, abortion, the public school system, masturbation, and Desperate Housewives. But those are disputable matters, and it is God's job to convict us of those things, not yours. You're not trying to protect the faith—you are trying to protect your jobs, your income, and your security.
Mr. Robertson, those of us who aren't trying to raise funds or run for political office don't think that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution from God for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. And we also don't think that the U.S. government should assassinate Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez.
By the way, what book of the bible are you reading all of this from?
Likewise, Mr. Osteen, we know that your personal happiness, feel-good, self-help guide, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, has sold over 3 million copies and is number one on the New York Times bestseller list. But when Larry King asks you how to get to heaven, the answer is "Jesus." If you have trouble remembering that, take $20 from the $95 million you raised for renovations to the Compaq center and buy yourself a Bible with big red letters and pictures in it.
The only way I know how to escape this well-packaged, khaki-wearing, close-knit, good-old-boy, uptight Christian marketing machine is to revolt and tear a door big enough for others to follow. We tried to discuss our family struggles, drug addictions, and loneliness issues with you, but you just "turned the other cheek." In your not-so-subtle ways, you reminded us that real Christians don't struggle with those things. Maybe they don't in the church, but they do in the real world, and that is where most of us live. Your standard response—"God knows what He is doing"—is not going to work anymore. We needed you to pray with us, or at the very least, walk with us through our struggles. But you chose to do neither. So we are leaving.
I'm not leaving because I believe so little in our pastors. I'm leaving because I believe so much in our God. I believe He still works at Harley rallies, tractor pulls, porn conventions, construction sites, and bowling alleys. I believe that if He came back right now, He would walk passed the locked doors of our expensive churches and spend time with mall walkers, high school students, gang members, Enron executives, and the homeless. Maybe it's foolishness, but I believe that he would leave ninety-nine of us passionate believers to search for that one lost soul who wandered off. And I want to go with Him. That's why I am leaving.
The church has so much potential, and I think that is what frustrates this generation the most. Instead of wasting our time boycotting Disney and picketing movies like The Da Vinci Code, we should be looking for ways to bridge the gap between the war camps. If Jesus is really God, then we don't need to fight His battles for Him. We simply need to walk alongside the hurt, the lost, the confused, the abandoned and let His light shine. We need to stop separating ourselves from culture and begin embracing it with Christ's love. We need to start walking as He did. We accomplish nothing by arguing with people who don't share our beliefs. You can't reason out of a person what wasn't reasoned into him.
And more than anything, we have to start being honest with ourselves and with those around us. Truth be told, most of the families that go to church are less like the Cleavers and more like the Simpsons. We are a rag-tag, imperfect, selfish, struggling bunch of cubicle monkeys and sinners who desperately need a Savior. If the church would be honest that their congregations and even their own pastors struggle with depression, anger, divorce, and greed, people could accept that and may even want to join. But when you line the pews with seemingly perfect families, hold on to the same age-old meaningless traditions, and preach a sermon that is about a mile wide and an inch deep, don't be surprised when people look elsewhere for fulfillment. You are arming them with a spoon when their entire lives are a gunfight.
I want to believe in Christ and follow those principles He modeled in His life. Nothing more, nothing less. If C.S. Lewis and I want to puff on stogies, drink a beer, and discuss theology, we're going to. And we are not going to feel guilty about it. These types of things don’t make you less Christ-like; they make you less Christian, and I’m okay with losing my Boy Scout's "Christian" patch. Don't worry, I'll drop my tithe in the offering basket on the way out the door. I still wholeheartedly, completely, and passionately believe in the body called the Church; I've just lost faith in the institution called the church. Like Gandhi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
So, consider this my letter of resignation from the fraternity of Christians. Here is my Bible with my name inscribed on it, the Jesus-fish from the back of my car, my Footprints poster, and my Toby Mac CDs. I won't need them anymore. I know what you are thinking—"He's just bitter and backsliding." No, not at all. I'm just tired of following people who are lost, hypocritical, and confused like me. I want to walk with Jesus. And if that walk takes me away from Christians and the church, so be it. It is, after all, a walk of faith.