Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Christian Chameleons

This past Saturday I was at a drama rehearsal for an upcoming event at my church. After the rehearsal had concluded, I was standing around talking with some of the other people involved -- one of whom is the director of a Christian camp. Each year she has the job of sorting through lots of applications from teens who want to be staff members at the camp. The teens take on the roles of counselors, serving as role models for the younger campers.

She mentioned that after reviewing each application that she would also check out the teen's facebook or myspace pages. In fact, there was a place on the application where she asked the applicant to put their facebook username and myspace web address. Visiting these sites, she said, was in many cases disturbing. Everything from the language used, to the sexual content to the attitudes and view expressed seemed to suggest anything but a Christian worldview on the part of the teen. Knowing that she was going to be checking out these pages, she actually wondered why some of them hadn't bothered to clean up the content.

Now, I'm not advocating that anyone should try to clean up their act to get a Christian job. But the disturbing part is that many of these teens saw no disconnect between their language, attitudes and behavior and their Christian faith. And this isn't a problem only with teensl I'd say it's pretty universal! Iit's just that the rampant use of technology among teens perhaps makes it more glaring.

Many people do not see Christian faith as an all-encompassing aspect of their life. Instead, they compartmentalize it. It becomes what they do on Sunday, or at camp over the summer, or at Wednesday night Bible study -- instead of what they do all the time. It has no say in how I talk or act the rest of the week, just where I go on Sunday. I'm afraid that this kind of thinking is extremely dangerous -- it's by this type of thinking that we deceive ourselves that we are followers of Christ. It's also by this type of thinking that we turn others away from the truth because our example shows them that we can be Christians without having changed hearts -- and this simply isn't true. (Saul didn't become Paul and then go back to persecuting Christians just on the weekends. No, he had a complete transformation of head and heart!) Now, the change may not come overnight, but it will come if we are earnest seekers. And Christ himself said that a good tree will bear good fruit -- so our Christian faith should be obvious to others, not something they'd never have guessed if they tried.

This morning some of the commentary in my Bible happened to be about chameleons - about how they can change colors depending upon their environment and how they do it for survival. I'm afraid that unfortunately, there are quite a few Christian chameleons out there. When surrounded by other Christians or on Sunday morning, they change to one color. But when they get on facebook, or with their friends, or go to a party, or are just home alone, they become another color entirely. But the Bible calls us to stand out. If we are truly in Christ, the only changing we should be doing is to be conforming ourselves more and more to the image and likeness of Christ. Staying the same color, irrespective of the circumstance or people around us, is another name for integrity.

I think youth is an especially hard time to figure out. Looking back, I can remember certain times where I lost integrity -- and probably because like many, I had compartmentalized my faith to some extent. As an earnest seeker of Christ at the time, I wonder if I would've gotten my act together sooner if someone would've confronted me and not been afraid to call me out on it -- to tell me that my color was all wrong for who I said I was. Obviously, we need to speak the truth in love. . . but the truth needs to be spoken. Faith needs to be integrated not compartmentalized. We cannot live as Christian chameleons any longer.

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