I had the idea of writing a column for Cracked.com on theology (it’s not their cup of tea actually) as a way to spread the Word and hopefully get readers to better understand Christianity and clear up any misconceptions. That idea tanked, but here is what I originally wrote in the Classic Cracked.com writing style:
7 Myths About Christianity You Probably Believe (Thanks To Our Culture)
Myth #7 “You have to play dress up (when you attend a church service)”
There is nothing wrong with wearing a fancy suit. I wish I had the money to suit up like Barney Stinson every day.
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television)
There is also nothing wrong with wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Neither one of these things are sinful or offer a need for debate, although some people think that when you “go to church” you need to follow a dress code or “look presentable to God”. A church service is not a beauty contest, or a chance to show off how much you love God by your $600 suit, but a place where you can learn and grow, in a community of others who love God. Not once in the Bible does it say anything about a dress code, but it does say the opposite:
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” – John 7:24 ESV
“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV
Myth #6 “They just want my money”
The phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute” is usually attributed P.T. Barnum, and if he didn’t say it, we’re suckers for believing it. Anyway, a common misconception about Christianity is that churches just want your money. I’m not going to lie, some do. There are some people out there that prey on others to fill their pockets – *cough* TV Evangelists *cough*. But this happens everywhere, whether it’s infomercials, snake-oil salesmen, companies that make generic iProducts, etc. Just do some research about different church groups in your area. Actual Christians could care less about your money, because God always provides. Here’s some advice, if you ever walk into a church service and they rapidly or constantly ask for money, get up and walk out. Don’t take me wrong people of the Internet, stuff costs money: Rent, electricity/gas, sewer, full- or part-time workers, furniture, worship equipment, mission-related stuff, those little pamphlets they give out, etc. Yes, donating money helps, and that should entirely be up to YOUR conscience on whether or not you choose to give. It is not up to church leaders or pastors to decide for you. Besides the money aspect, there are other things that are always needed in the church like childcare, serving, worship band, be a greeter, do security detail or whatever, just ask.
A word of warning on this subject: Stay far, far, away from anyone preaching “Name it to Claim it”, “Sow a seed to reap a harvest” or as others call it, “Prosperity Gospel”. Basically, it’s what happens when greedy businessmen use the Gospel to fill their pockets. I’m not against using media such as TV or radio to evangelize, let me make that clear, but I am against liars and those that use the Gospel to deceive people, especially out of their money. Enough on this tangent, moving on…
Myth #5 “Going to church.”
You hear it all the time usually like this “You need to go to church” or more commonly in Hollywood “A vampire/zombie/werewolf/witch/etc. is chasing us! We have to get to the church!”. The common misconception is that the Church is a building, or a place to go to, or is “holy ground”, or even that the Church is a business, organization, or an event. In reality it is none of these things. So what is it? The Church is simply people – it is everyone who believes, has believed, or in the future will believe, in God and His promises (specifically in Jesus).
Myth #4 “Go to church so you can be a better person”
Another misconception is that “going to church will make you a better person”. This myth takes the former one and adds a little bit more. Going to a worship service does not make you a better person, whether you go once or have been going for several years. As stated above, the Church is the people, and people can’t make you a better person. “But Ben, you know what I meant. Going to a church service should show some sort of self-improvement right?” Wrong, and the reason is because…
Myth #3 “Christians think of themselves as good/perfect”
Christians, that is, people who wholeheartedly believe the Gospel (Good News) of Christ, know that they are not perfect. In fact, Christians know that they are not even good people. This may shock and confuse some readers because the main consensus in our society is that we have some set of rules we follow that allows us to be better than others. The truth is the complete opposite; that God is the only one that is 100% good [see Luke 18:19] and that everyone, including Christians, are not good because of the act of sin (which is basically “missing the bull’s-eye” of how God wants us to live our lives and treat others; it is both a natural tendency and also a conscious choice to “miss the bull’s-eye”) [see Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23]. God doesn’t want “good” people, He wants sinful people (everyone including Christians) to come back to Him; like a lost son returning home to his loving father [see Mark 2:17, 2 Peter 3:9, Luke 15]. Christians aren’t better than anyone else; we’re all in the same boat. Which brings us to…
Myth #2 “If you do good enough, God will love you”
The understanding that we have to be “good” people, or do good deeds, or as said in Home Alone 2 by the crazy pigeon lady “A good deed erases a bad deed” stems from the thought that we can do X to obtain Y.
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)
Normally in everyday life this is true, but not with being right with God. While doing good deeds might make you feel good, and is philosophically the right thing to do, it does not in any way change your standing with God. Because of sin in our lives, it creates a chasm if you will, between us and Him. There’s nothing we can do to bridge the gap. Sin stops us from getting there regardless of our good or bad deeds. But in spite of sin, God unconditionally loves us anyway [see John 15:13, John 10:17-18, John 3:16-17, Romans 5:6-8]. We are all in the same boat: the boat of sin but in the sea of God’s Amazing Grace. We can’t earn God’s love, He gives it freely.
Which is the reason that…
Myth #1 “You have to find Jesus”
There is no way to “find” Jesus, as if he’s hiding somewhere in the longest-running game of hide-and-seek or if He’ll pop up in some random person’s toast from time to time.
(Original source unknown)
Out of His amazing love, God gave us a free gift, and the only way to redeem that Prize is to believe and trust it. Remember that chasm I was talking about earlier, the one that separates us from God? That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus died on the cross in place of our sin so that we can be reconciled back to God. Jesus bridged the gap that we cannot fix, and paid the dues of sin that would have cost us our lives.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” – John 15:13 NKJV
“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” – John 10:18 NKJV
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:16-17 NKJV
“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” – Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13 NKJV
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we
were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 NKJV
<Original work by BenBRockN. Feel free to reblog, ONLY if you give credit to the original author (me). Thanks!>