3M: Living in the Bible belt

I grew up in Texas, where it appears there is a church on every corner (and sometimes 2 or 3!).  It was a sense of pride to have so many churches in town, and I guess it still is.

Having spent many years living in Ukraine now, it is often called part of the evangelical Bible belt of Europe, along with Moldovia and Romania.  Many new evangelical churches have been started in these countries since the fall of Communism.

At the moment I am in Krakow, Poland, where there must be a Catholic church on every corner, or at least it seems like it!  I arrived here on Friday evening, and while enjoying dinner at the local mall, I asked a couple of Polish teenagers what they would want to see in their city if they only had one day.

Surprisingly, they suggested I see several of the Catholic churches near Old Town that have some historical or artistic meaning.  So, on Saturday morning, I went walking through Old Town and then found several of these churches.  One of them had several stain glassed windows that are spectacular.  I will try to post some photos of these after I get home on Wednesday.  Then I walked to the Dominican church down the street, literally!

When I walked in, the place was packed with people standing up.  There was a mass going on, so I stood in the back but didn’t want to take pictures while people were worshiping, so I left.  I guess I was somewhat surprised by the crowd.  With all the churches in the city, and many in the area, I didn’t expect so many.

I am reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love at the moment. It has been challenging me to re-think some things in my own live.  Chapter 5 is titled, “Serving leftovers to a Holy God.”  I thought about the many people in America, Europe and all over the world who try to label themselves as Christians because they might have walked the aisle, said a prayer sometime in their live, or were simply born into their family and faith.

Chan equated this to the new “health labels” found on many food products in America.  He said, “It struck me that many Christians flash around their “no trans fat” label, trying to convince everyone they are healthy and good.  Yet they have no substantive or healthful elements to their faith.”

Talk about a stab to the heart! How often have I considered myself “good” because of the deeds I may have done or anything else that may appear righteous.  Yet, I know none of these compare to what Jesus has already accomplished on the cross.

I want to grow past the need or the desire to tell other Christians about my good deeds.  I want to have substance and healthful elements to my faith in Jesus Christ.  I… don’t want to be a lukewarm Christian.