Jonathan ES Lin
Life · Tech · Faith

Regimented Christianity

Jul 28, 2014

Regimented Christianity is the sort of Christianity that seeks to organize the lives of those who are subjected to it.

For one thing, regimented Christianity reasons that you should follow a certain pattern in your life in order to be fruitful and not fall away from the faith.

In other words, if you show up every week and do the predetermined daily devotions along with others (everyone has devotional homework of the same format), you are okay, and everyone is okay. But if you didn't manage to do them, then maybe you need to buck up and be like the rest.

Or, as long as you are kept busy with a schedule of Christian events, you are buffered from idleness and are less likely to sin. Your commitment toward Christian outreach and ministry shows how committed you are as a Christian.

Or it may come in the form of rules: no alcohol, no pork, no jewellery, no dating in college, thou shall not buy luxury cars, etc.

There is a certain danger to all this. For one, there is the danger that regimented Christianity is all about outward behavior. As long as I keep up with the pace and manage the regiment well, people will see that I am doing okay as a Christian, regardless of my real heart condition.

But from my experience the heart often lags behind my outward deeds. I find myself grudgingly following the daily devotion regiment. It's like clockwork, void of desire and genuine care. There are rules as to how certain questions should be answered. While I obtain some nuggets of spiritual insight, I am often left wanting. What I really seek is personal time to explore the Word in depth on my own.

The other problem is that regimented Christianity assumes that everyone is on the same spiritual boat, and can maintain the same spiritual schedule in their lives. It is only for certain competent Christian elites who can keep up ("This church or fellowship is not for everyone."). The reality is that everyone is in different phases of their spiritual walk with God, with different personalities, dispositions, and careers.

Still another problem is that regimented Christianity leaves one with little or no time for frivolous pursuits that give much color to life. What is this life if so full of Christian activity, we have no time to stand and stare? So much time is spent in Christian activities that we spend little time elsewhere mixing around with others, doing fun and trivial things. Salt loses its flavor.

And where is grace? If our lives are closely organized around a certain schedule that there is little room or time to sin, are we trusting in God's grace or are we trusting more in our ability to build walls around ourselves that keep us artificially right with God?

Perhaps regimented Christianity is a bootcamp that some may choose to subject themselves in the short term, with certain benefits. For those who are less disciplined with their time, such a regiment may be a blessing. But for those who are more disciplined, it may eventually become a routine void of meaning or real devotion.