Reader’s Digest Christianity

I woke up with this phrase in my head this morning.

I Googled it this evening and found only one use of the phrase on the ‘Net, on a Baptist discussion board among the other five answers to the question “What does ‘ecumenical’ mean?” That answer was: “It seems the Ecumenical movement does in fact seek to merge all under one banner of agreement. But this is often done at the cost of watering down the true Gospel so that it is “acceptable” to all…I think of it as Reader’s Digest Christianity…” – from a poster signed “Keith M.”

But before I Googled it, the phrase rattled around in the head of this Keith all day, who came to a similar conclusion, pretty much unrelated to ecumenicism.

I realized that during a large portion of my life, I was satisfied with Reader’s Digest Christianity. Someone else had already read and studied all the hard stuff for me and boiled it down to a length and language that I could quickly and easily absorb without spending too much time or too many brain cells on it. I missed the nuances of the original work, but I didn’t know or care.

I went to church. I listened. I absorbed. I read a verse or two along with someone reciting it.

And that was all.

And I thought it was enough.

I didn’t try to dive more deeply into the Word. I didn’t try to comprehend the fulness of Christ. I didn’t try to draw closer to God through His Son.

I sat. I swallowed the pre-chewed, pre-digested pablum that some mothering birdly teacher or preacher had prepared for me and all the other flightless hatchlings in the nest with me.

it’s not a bad way to begin your new life after being freshly born again. But we’re talking twenty- thirty-sometimes-more years into my spiritual life, and I was still finding myself at times just squatting in the nest.

It sorta calls to mind how the writer to the Hebrews upbraided their immaturity:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

And what “this” is that the writer had much to say about was how Christ prayed and was heard because of His reverent submission; how He learned obedience through suffering.

I still have a lot to learn about that “this.”

I won’t learn it by just hearing the Reader’s Digest version; by sitting in the pew; by waiting passively for mothering birdly teacher or preacher to drop it into my craw.

It’s time to fly.

6 thoughts on “Reader’s Digest Christianity

  1. I can relate…what I don’t really understand is how we guide people to spiritual maturity. Maybe leadership needs to make this a priority…(you think?)

  2. donna, I think my church is taking a good step in having a one-month series on spiritual formation in our January adult Sunday School classes, then following up with the study of Darryl Tippens’ < HREF="" REL="nofollow"><>Pilgrim Heart<><> in our LIFE Groups on Wednesday nights. (Yeah, the discussion leaders get a copy of the < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Group Guide<> that Angi and I wrote.) It’s a start!

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