I know I have mentioned this before but I HATE religious sentimentalism. I run into it more than I care too, which isn’t that difficult because I would prefer not to even see it in commercials let alone run into it in my real life. I would rather talk about important subjects with someone with no faith than I would someone with a faith that is just Christian sentimentalism.
Karl Marx famously said of religion:
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
I completely disagree with Marx’s quote in regard to genuine faith. Real faith doesn’t anesthetize and dull people into inaction. Instead genuine faith in Jesus pushes people to action. Real faith in Christ causes a believer to work with Christ that His “kingdom [will] come, [His] will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Look at the heroes of the Christian faith. Their faith led them to be a part of Jesus changing the world.
Sentimentalism, on the other hand, asks nothing of the person who believes it and offers that person no real hope other than a brief “fix” that hides the pain for a while. Sentimental believe in Christ doesn’t change the person or the world around him/her. While Marx may be wrong about genuine faith I think his quote is spot on for sentimentality. Sentimentalism dulls us into a stupor that keeps us from experiencing real faith.
- seems like real faith but is fake
- looks deep but is actually shallow
- sound pious but is actually rebellious (because it is generally self-focused – i.e. this makes me feel good)
- feels comforting but actually keeps you from the Comforter
So to use Jeff Foxworthy’s “you might be a redneck” style I offer the following hints to determining if you have a sentimental faith.
- if your Jesus never challenges you … you might be a sentimentalist.
- if your Jesus usually just offers clichéd answers to tough questions … you might be a sentimentalist.
- if your Jesus has never asked more of you than you thought possible … you might be a sentimentalist.
- if your Jesus would agree with you and disagree with those you don’t like … you might be a sentimentalist.
- if your Jesus has never asked you to love someone who is your enemy … you might be a sentimentalist.
- if your Jesus’ teachings can be easily substituted with cute cats memes … you might be a sentimentalist.
I could go on and on. Basically I hope, and pray, that you have a faith that makes a real difference, not just one that pretends to do so.