Commonsense Christianity

Commonsense Christianity

Sleeping Christians: Wake. Up.

Some days, I wish I could walk, and walk, and walk, and leave the exasperation behind me, but until Jesus calls me home, I have work to do. Daydreaming, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold.

Some days, I’d prefer to leave the amusement park and just go someplace else.

It is on these days that I ask God,

“Do you not care, anymore, about your people? Are you just going to let them die, asleep, complacently living a life of outward ablutions and inward materialism?”

I was in Costco the other day — my inward materialism by necessity is satisfied by three-liter bottles of olive oil and boxes of organic diced tomatoes — when I wandered through the book section. Not because I was interested in buying pop-culture products designed to manipulate my thinking as opposed to, say, tell a good story with a propaganda-free plot, but because I was waiting for my printer ink cartridges to be refilled. More materialism.

The Latest Christian “Literature”

I walked by the latest compelling, gripping, hard hitting historical novel aimed toward Christians. If the title, which had the name “Jesus” in it, weren’t enough to clue me in, the reading level of the prose, which hovered around fifth grade, finished the job. For some reason, mass media publishers are convinced that Christians are unable to read, and comprehend, complex, sophisticated, intellectual material. I do so hope that they are not right.

To be honest, “Jesus” wasn’t the first word I noticed; the author’s name — above “Jesus” and the same font size, shouted out. And given that more people — too many of them Christians — listen to this man’s words than read those of Jesus, this is understandable from a marketing point of view. (Incidentally, Jesus fared better than the co-author, whose name is squished in between the Famous Media Commentator Who Wants to Be Known as an Historian and a Novelist Too and . . . oh yeah, Jesus.)

Jesus Divine

I flip flip flipped the pages, rapidly gathering the impression that this forceful exposé of Christ’s life and death was nothing more than a compilation of the four Gospels, in prose form, with “historical background facts” sprinkled in here and there to give an illusion of authenticity and scholarly research. (Herod had gout. And an STD. The pugio was a sharp weapon carried by the Romans.)

We are to love God with our hearts, souls, and MINDS. Let’s improve those minds by reading, thinking, praying, meditating, and learning. The World Traveler, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, signed limited edition print and poster.

Flip flip flip to the end, when Mary Magdalene arrives at the empty tomb: the body of Jesus was never found. End of story.

Considering that all four Gospels, upon which the history of Jesus is based, don’t stop at the missing body, this is an interesting way to conclude the tale of “the most influential man in history,” and gives credence to the author’s (oh wait, authors’, there were two, weren’t there?) intent to focus on the humanity of Jesus, at the expense of acknowledging his divinity.

(He is God, you know. He doesn’t just say it. He is it, I AM and all that.)

College Graduates Barely Reading Chapter Books

Christians: are we truly reading this stuff? Is this the best that we can do?

Are the Gospels so difficult to understand — so beyond the fifth grade reading level of a populace that is largely graduated from high school, and a significant number additionally holding college degrees — that we need them simplified, compiled, sanitized, and explained for us?

Do we believe, and read, everything a media personality says and writes simply because we recognize his face? Do we ever say,

“You’re a sensible man, and you say some sensible things, but I retain my right to not believe everything that you say. Only God deserves allegiance like that.”

American Idols

We live in a world of pop culture that worships people — because they act, because they sing, because they sit behind a desk and “interpret” the “news” for us, because they say they’re Christian and make a point about their church attendance — and if we don’t actively stand up and resist the mass media message and the peer pressure from the pews, we will drift along on our floaties to . . . complacency, conformity, subservience, tractability and an acceptance of all that our leaders — political and religious — instruct us to believe.

We won’t make any impact on the culture around us because, as Christians, we are not actively seeking Jesus and asking Him to impact us.

Not everything you read has to be highbrow — I mean, I love trashy spy novels from the 1960s. At the same point, don’t allow everything you read to be dumbed down to the point that Jane Austen is impossible to comprehend. You’re smarter than that.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. Do you know who and what I am? I’m an ordinary Christian — sort of a modern Hebrew fisherman, or goat herd, or woman at the well — someone who isn’t important, isn’t brilliant, isn’t influential, and isn’t powerful.

But I’m a Child of the King, and I’m compelled to use the gifts that He has given me — the desire to write and the inability to shut up and leave the room — to reach out to anyone who is reading. I walk where He leads me, which is what He asks all of His children to do.

What about you? What is He asking you to do? If you don’t know, ask, and He’ll answer in His own way, but if you’re truly seeking an answer, you will get it.

God needs His people — all of us ordinary people — doing His work, reading His words, listening for His voice. Turn off the TV. Tune out the voices. Quit following human beings.

Posts similar to this one are

People Call Us Stupid, You Know

Who’s You’re Guru?

Christians: It’s Time to Read Grown-up Books

What “Should” Your Child Be Reading? (at my sister site, This Woman Writes)


  • Carolyn Henderson

    Michael — my concern about reading level, within the church, is that a lack of it can, and is, used against us, in that people are essentially told, “You can’t understand the Bible on your own. You need help. Here’s that help.” And then the help that is given is not good, right, accurate, Biblical, or Scripturally sound, but it’s easy and painless to read.

    My encouragement to Christians is that the Bible is meant to be read, even though it frequently isn’t easy to be read. My encouragement to Christians, always, is that they have what is necessary to read the Bible for themselves, and indeed MUST read it for themselves, allowing God to teach them through His holy spirit. Now this isn’t to say that He won’t teach them through other people, but our extreme reliance upon other people, in this day of looking to “experts” to interpret everything for us, is not a good thing.

  • Michael Wall

    I found this article, by doing a search for “how to rouse Christians”. I am a little nonplussed by your treatment of this subject. While I can agree 100% with your assessment that Christians are more attracted by celebrity than content, you seemed to be more concerned with our reading level than our choice of material. There are documents that are so meticulously written, they will bend your mind, but are absolutely wrong. If scholarship or writing skill were the deciding factor, we would probably all be catholic. My concern is the absolute hogwash being taught to the churches through word and print. I wonder if you share that concern primarily or just lament the level of reading comprehension in the church.

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  • Anonymous


  • Carolyn Henderson

    Anonymous — thank you. Blessings upon you, too, as well. It’s a rough world, and we need His presence, big in the room and warm in our lives.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Shade — thank you. It’s easy and it’s difficult at the same time. If we ask Him, He always answers, but first, we have to be silent enough to hear, then obedient enough to listen.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    Anonymous — thank you for your kind words and the offer. I am 31 years into a satisfying and wondrous marriage with my Norwegian Artist. I remember at 19, thinking, “I want to build my life with this man,” and I have never regretted the decision to do so. If you are looking, I hope that you find someone in your life who is your soul mate and best friend. You build one another up.

  • Carolyn Henderson

    ALittleRandR — I am finding that following Jesus is frightening, scary, exhilarating, exhausting, confusing, frustrating, joyous, and compelling. After too many years of complacency, life shook me up, and eventually I awoke enough to say, “Okay, what if this stuff is really true? Not that I SAY it’s true, but that it’s REALLY true, and I’m going to operate my life and my day around that truth.”

    You know, once you embark on that path, you can’t turn around — but I really don’t want to. I sure would like for it to be easier than it is, but I wouldn’t want it to be anything other than what it is — so I hang onto Christ’s hand and trust that He will lead me safely.

    What a disappointment about that class, and as you say, how sad that someone would treat Christ, and Who and What He is, so cavalierly. All I can say is that, given my personal experience and observation of the experiences of others, God does not let His children off lightly when they try to discount Him. He very much wants to BE their life, and He won’t leave the room.


    Thank you for speaking out! When I was in Bible college, one of my required classes was “Life and Teachings of Christ”. I honestly couldn’t wait to take a class that sounded so compelling. Not only did I find it more elementary than the Sunday School classes I used to teach, the flippancy with which the material was shared, and the fact that the mid-term and final were simply true-and-false questions…ending with: “Dr. ____like’s chocolate” – which only proved the level of seriousness he gave to this subject. In short, the whole thing was a disappointment. How sad that we find the life of Jesus so ordinary that we treat it so casually.

  • Anonymous

    I love your thoughts. The most influental I have read in a while. If you are not married, please e-mail me at

  • shade akinbiyi

    Thank you! I do agree, we need to rise up to who we are in Christ and what He is calling us to do. God bless you!

  • Anonymous

    Really enjoyed this piece. God bless.

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