Is that all there is?

Bowden at Counseling Notes recently had an interesting conversation which he shares in his post Meaning of Life.

I had an interesting conversation with a teenager today. A good kid from a good family that attends a good church.

I asked him what it meant to be a Christian.

“It means you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.”

Okay, that’s a nice, correct answer. What does it mean?

“It means I’m going to heaven.”

Alright, but most people grow old and die before they go to heaven. What about between now and then? What does being a Christian mean in the here and now?

“If you pray for things, you can get stuff.”

Wow. Just… wow.

If that’s all there is I’d rather forget it.

Is that really what young people, or even most people, in churches today understand following Christ to mean?

When did Christ’s message change from giving our lives for others to having a magic genie that gives us stuff and provides a nice place to go when we die? When did the focus change from the glory of God to the satisfying of men’s petty desires?

I know that this teenager has given a very simplistic answer but I wonder how deep that kind of thinking goes. Are our churches just another instrument of a consumer society?

I wonder what kinds of answers we’d get if we asked some of the people we know what it means to be a Christian. If you’re a Christian what does it mean to you?

Posted by Rodney Olsen

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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9 Comments

  • I would have said the same things as the teenager and then I would have to say that when I was saved that was a big deal to me. After that, it was all about living my life as Christ would have me do. It hasn’t been easy though. As for praise and giving God the Glory – I think I’ve come up short on that. But then I’ve always been my worst critic…..

  • It means to live by example and to example His life. It is to follow Him, His way of thinking, being and doing. To believe that by choice this is the way for your life to be lived by choice.

  • Living as a Christian here and now means my whole life has been turned on it’s head. When I became a Christian it meant that I understood why I was here. What used to be a life about ME ME ME, God has shown is all about HIM, giving him the glory by loving and serving him and other people. By no means do I think I’ve got this following Jesus thing down pat, it’s a struggle and a joy at the same time.

  • Can we back up a moment? We were examining a teenager’s simplistic answer. Maybe I am way off, but a thought occured to me … didn’t Jesus say we ought to come to Him as little children? In the spiritual the teenager is on a journey and as he/she matures, hopefully their christian walk matures as well, yet we as children learn from our parents and other adults around us. We might be sending out the wrong messages to our teens today, maybe not. However simplistic or pat the answer appeared, the teenager did come to the answer as a child would. I think Jesus would be very encourging to the very young and teens in this day and age.

  • We do need to be simple in our approach to Jesus, but the whole born again thing as it is marketed today is not what Jesus had in mind, at least in my opinion. Jesus was a revolutionary, and revolutions are simple. You fight against the prevailing power or culture. In the Bible James wrote that true religion is to reach out to the homeless and loveless, that is what it means to me to be a Christian or Christ follower.

  • How tragic. I sure hope that not what my students are hearing for me. “Take up your cross and follow me” means a whole lot more than pray a prayer so you can get into heaven and get stuff.

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