You were repeatedly challenged to be a “relentless” and “radical” follower of Jesus throughout high school and college.
You read books, listened to sermons, and attended big conferences that criticized “consumer Christianity” and challenged you to “take back your faith from the American Dream.”
You were part of the “passion” generation that would ignite a global revival with your collective “crazy love” for Jesus. You were to be the “tip of the spear” of an irresistible revolution of prayer, worship, and missions. Scorning office cubicles, megachurches, and suburban living, you rolled your eyes at the “safe and comfortable” lifestyles of other Christians. You would be different. We would be different.
But then, on the other side of college, real life happened. Homeownership. Marriage. Health insurance. Tax season. Student loans. Parenthood. Performance reviews.
You try to justify your life decisions and circumstances, but deep down, you still silently struggle with the shame that you’ve sold out your faith for comfort and security.
I’ve wrestled with these intrusive thoughts for years. I used to think they were “convictions from the Holy Spirit,” but now I know better. It’s long-simmering anxiety stemming from my internalized fears of “wasting my life” and letting God down.
The root of this shame and anxiety is the toxic belief that life is all about paying God back for everything he’s done for us. In short, Christianity becomes another pagan religion seeking to appease God’s wrath and earn his favor through sacrifice, ritual, and service.
I’ve heard this referred to as “missionalism,” or belief that one’s worth is directly correlated to how much one accomplishes and/or suffers for the sake of the Gospel.
Missionalism elevates the mission of God above God Himself. It encourages addiction to activity, productivity, and efficiency.
Missionalism promotes a results-oriented and impact-driven mindset that resembles the capitalistic business models developed during the early twentieth century. And it fosters a worldview that reduces all people into pawns in service (or in opposition) to The Mission.