home
RSS
August 24th, 2013
08:40 AM ET

Should Christianity be so boring?

Opinion by Jon Acuff, Special to CNN

(CNN) - No one has ever accused us Christians of being fun.

No one has ever said we are a laugh-filled group.

No atheist has ever said, “I might not love Jesus, but his followers sure know how to party!”

And yet, in my favorite story in the Bible we actually see Jesus paint the opposite picture.

If you’re a Christian, you’ve heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke referenced in approximately 42 million sermons. If you’ve missed it though, allow me to summarize.

A young son said to his dad, who represents God, “I want my inheritance.” This was the cultural equivalent of saying, “I wish you were dead!” The father gives him the money. The son immediately runs off to the Jersey shore and fist pumps the night away with 4 Loko and Skrillex. [Not a direct translation.]

After squandering all the money and awakening in a pig pen, the son devises a plan. He will come home, apologize and throw himself at the mercy of the father. His greatest hope is that the father will let him be a servant. He can’t even imagine getting to keep the title “son.”

He comes home expecting punishment, but instead something weird happens.

The father sees him from a distance and sprints toward him. He runs toward him and embraces him. Before the son can even get his whole apology out, the father has already started planning the last thing he expected.

A party.

Instead of punishment he gets a party.

The idea that God fixes problems with parties is crazy.

Who does that?

Life doesn’t work that way. Imagine that you messed up at work. Your boss called you in and said, “Johnson you lost our biggest account! You just cost this company more than 3 million dollars. You know what that makes me want to do? Throw you a party!”

Or think about this in the context of a marriage. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse? Not a fake argument but one that lands you on the couch overnight.

You come into the kitchen and your wife is doing that “mad dishwashing” move we all do when we’re upset. Just power scrubbing pots and pans with a vengeance, mumbling the entire time.

You approach her slowly and say, “Heyyyy baby, how do you feel this morning?” Without looking at you, she takes a deep breath and says, “You really hurt my feelings. Last night, you really surprised me by what you did. My mom was right about you. I’m so angry and disappointed. This whole thing makes me want to get an inflatable bounce house and throw a huge celebration in your honor!”

That would be ludicrous.

Our worst mistakes don’t end in parties, but in this story in the Bible, it did.

When given the opportunity to talk to a group of people, the picture Jesus drew of his Father was of a party giver; someone who met sinners with welcome home banners.

What if Christians were like that?

What if churches became the place where failures found new beginnings?

What if we were known for our parties, not for our Pharisees?

It all feels a little crazy, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

Christians should offer hope in exchange for hurt, new in exchange for old, parties in exchange for pain.

Are we there yet?

Nope, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve still got a lot of things to work through, a lot of progress we have to make.

But when you think about the prodigal son story, I hope you will remember something.

Two people moved.

One walked.

One ran.

And we prodigals are the walkers.

We still have a running God.

And he is ready to throw a party.

Jon Acuff is a keynote speaker and the author of four books including The New York Times best-seller, START. Acuff is also the author of the popular blog, Stuff Christians Like.net.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jon Acuff

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (4,711 Responses)
  1. Zedd

    The problem with Christianity is not how the message is presented, but the message itself: A demigod (born of a god and a mortal) came as a blood sacrifice to appease the tribal god of the Hebrews. It is an archetype that has presented itself throughout the ages in various forms and in many cultures. The problem is we have grown tired of waiting for our Superman, we have grown weary of promises made by our ancestors and long forgotten. Salvation never has and never will fall out of the sky.

    The truth is: There is no hope for humanity BUT humanity. And THAT is the greatest punchline ever told.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • Zedd

        Hate? No. Cynical? Yes.

        August 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

          Kaysi
          Time to get my pepperoni pizza folks.

          August 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
          Doobs
          Enjoy. I just had a big burger and a margarita on the patio. Gorgeous weather today.

          Life is good.

          August 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
          Kaysi
          You are so lucky you can eat pepperoni pizza! I can't have pepperoni 'cuz of the nitrates in it. They have a pizza place in the popular 1970s TV series, Laverne & Shirley, the purpose of the Carmine Ragusa character was to keep Lenny and Squiggy in line. The Lenny and Squiggy characters are arguably the best thing in the series.
          The "Lenny and Squiggy" act was originally formed when both actors were undergraduates, attending Columbia University in New York City.

          August 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  2. Mimi Meredith

    Well said! If you choose not to follow your wife's advice (read the column, followed you on twitter, and there was your tweet), know that this is exactly the kind of message the world needs to hear from Christians. There are more love-driven, grace-inspired, world-engaging Christians than those who observe us from the fringes must imagine. Today, I'm going to think of shifting my mindset. When something troubles me, I'm going to find that switch to flip to the joy mode...I'll throw a little Spirit party in place of judgment. Thanks for that inspiration!

    August 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  3. Bailey

    So hiappy for you, Jon! Been a reader of Stuff Christians Like for years, and this is a great opportunity. Wonderful article, brother.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Apple Bush

      And you lived to tell the tale??

      August 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Troll Hunter

        Dude!!! Learn to spell... It is tell not tale. Do you spell English-Engrish? Troll

        August 24, 2013 at 10:25 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Troll Hunter, if typo-s are your problem in life........

        August 24, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  4. tony

    catholics partt with unprotected socks all the time. Wheeee!!!

    August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Kaysi
      Time to get my pepperoni pizza folks.

      August 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      Doobs
      Enjoy. I just had a big burger and a margarita on the patio. Gorgeous weather today.

      Life is good.

      August 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      Kaysi
      You are so lucky you can eat pepperoni pizza! I can't have pepperoni 'cuz of the nitrates in it. They have a pizza place in the popular 1970s TV series, Laverne & Shirley, the purpose of the Carmine Ragusa character was to keep Lenny and Squiggy in line. The Lenny and Squiggy characters are arguably the best thing in the series.
      The "Lenny and Squiggy" act was originally formed when both actors were undergraduates, attending Columbia University in New York City.

      August 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  5. John P. Tarver

    Atheists must suppress science in order to keep from looking stupid. They do a really good job of it most of the time but:

    http://theconversation.com/new-theory-of-general-relativity-casts-doubt-on-dark-matter-16446

    Eighty years of money wasted on God/Relativity deniers.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • tony

      Lying doesn't become you.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Rodboy

        Sorry but he is telling the truth – athies supress the fact they do not know where matter came from and hold to evolution made it thru even with the laws of thermodynamics. Sorry

        August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Apple Bush

      John, I am sorry but that makes absolutely no sense to me.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • John P. Tarver

        Relativity cancelled the big bang too apple, in 1919.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • thkyrslf

      Excellent link. Thank you.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Godot17

      You're a troll, aren't you?

      Please explain yourself again though. I have quite a few books on general relativity and QFT on me to clear anything up.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • John P. Tarver

        Do you have "The Meaning of relativity", by Albert Einstein? Every other commentary on general relativity I have read is mistaken. In the experiment proving general relativity a photograph of a solar eclipse is used to show light bent 0.86 degrees. The light is bent due to the longer path length of the light near the moon, because there is more time near the moon than further away. This is caused by mass bending Time to form gravity.

        The same bending of light by mass eliminates dark matter.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • Richard Moore

          You can't eliminate something that doesn't exist.

          So what is it, no black holes or dark matter, or none near gravitational fields?

          August 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          You really haven't a clue what you are talking about. Mass bends light in a by creating a gravitational field, a gravitaional lens. It does not create gravity.

          Why are you working so hard to misrepresent the science?

          August 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          The notional hypothesis that dark matter exists is eliminated. No dark matter, no black holes. It was Einstein's intention for the photon to make fools of relativity deniers and it still works today.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • Godot17

          If you could please elaborate why you believe the nonexistence of black holes follows, that'd be great. I'm not afraid of math or actualy GR.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:42 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          From General Relativity, "Gravity is mass bending Time." The photon is a mathematical contrivance derived from general relativity, intended to make fools of relativity deniers. Still works a century later.

          http://theconversation.com/new-theory-of-general-relativity-casts-doubt-on-dark-matter-16446

          August 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
        • Godot17

          I meant dark matter, but I guess black holes too. After all, the Schwarzschild metric, about the simplest solution to the EFQ, predicts them.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          And general relativity eliminated dark matter in 1919, before some fool thought it up in about 1930.

          http://theconversation.com/new-theory-of-general-relativity-casts-doubt-on-dark-matter-16446

          August 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          JPT
          You keep saying this, over and over. " intended to make fools of relativity deniers"

          Where exactly did you get that?

          August 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • David Davey

          Nice copy and paste theories numb nuts.

          August 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • bostontola

      Christians must suppress god in order to not look atheistic.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  6. David Davey

    Yes! Christians and their fantasy man in the sky are boring with their warlike ways. Time for a new religion, I call it Reality.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      If reality were the atheist goal they would not suppress science.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • One one

        Do you mean like taking several hundred years to acknowledge the earth revolves around the sun after it had already been proven?

        August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
        • John P. Tarver

          I mean the one where atheist have wasted a fortune in public money suppressing science this past century. If you are trying to claim moral equivalence for atheists I doubt it will work.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • are122

      What is your "reality?" People that say what doesn't exist, how things didn't happen but never provide any info on how (in their opinion) things did happen are boring. They are like people that come to me at work with problems...but never solutions.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • OldTimeReligion

      Yep – try and call your god – Reality – when you reach the DEEPEST depths of DEPRESSION. It will really give yiu peace, joy and feel loved – NOT!!!

      August 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  7. Apple Bush

    One rock
    Large porous spaces
    Edges
    Grass and critters. Critters crawling by; Crawling
    Tiny little holes; giant tiny holes
    Absorbing and spinning and crashing
    One narrative of all perception; the position can’t change
    You are right there

    August 24, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  8. tony

    of course doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result gets boring.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I like where you are going with that....

      August 24, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  9. Topher

    I don't think Christianity is boring at all.

    And I could be wrong, but I think Acuff has missed the point of the "party" in that parable. There was a celebration because his son had returned ... someone who had rejected his family, was only interested in getting money he didn't deserve and living like a hedonist. The son was sorry for what he did (repentant) and came back to his father for mercy and grace.

    The man arguing with his wife and who messed up at work ... of course they won't be thrown a party.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Of course you don't think church is boring T, but it is. So are you. That is why you don't see it.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • Topher

        Church CAN be boring. And I agree I am. But that's not the point of the article. The argument is that Christianity is boring.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:16 am |
        • Apple Bush

          Topher, unless the Christian hillbillies pull out the snakes I say BORING.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Topher

          Apple

          Like I say, it can be boring. But I just don't see how God leaving his throne, coming to earth and hanging out with us and then dying to pay for our sins is boring.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • Troll Hunter

        Did you think of that all by yourself little Troll?

        August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Topher, if all that were true, it would be exciting.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  10. Apple Bush

    Why I hate church by Apple Bush (2nd Edition)

    1. Bad music. I man that music SUCKS man.
    2. Boring lectures about invisible pretend people.
    3. It smells like old people.
    4. There is goat urine in the coffee (from the detractors. Not me of course).
    4. Polyester

    August 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      The music has really gone down hill at church the past few decades.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  11. ehb

    My church is actually in a sermon series about this right now. As my pastor says "Evil people party, but partying is not evil". In fact Jesus was called a glutton and a drunkard because he attended parties with sinners. Shouldn't modern Christians do the same?

    August 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Apple Bush

      "Modern" Christians? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

      August 24, 2013 at 10:13 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  12. One one

    Ted Haggard said Christians have the best s-e-x.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  13. Mopery

    The real question is, "Should Christianity be so ignorant?"

    August 24, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  14. hharri

    Should atheists be idiots?

    August 24, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • thkyrslf

      Really!!!

      August 24, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • bostontola

      Why did god create idiots?

      August 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • bostontola

          How is a question hate?

          August 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

          How is a loaded shotgun dangerous??

          August 24, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • bostontola

          Did you read the OP?

          August 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  15. bostontola

    Should Christianity be so boring? Wrong question.

    Should Christians be so judgmental?
    Should Christians be so bigoted?
    Should Christians be so arrogant?
    .
    .
    .
    Please don't tell me atheists are more arrogant, judgmental, etc., how would that make it ok for Christians.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Apple Bush

      BUT, if it is going to be those things. why do it so boring?

      August 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Meant for Bosto, sorry

        August 24, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Chrissy G

      You're right. That is what a lot of Christians have shown. I'm sorry for that. Certainly not what Jesus is about and NOT how He teaches us to be. I'm thankful that my faith is in Him and not other "Christians".

      August 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Luke

      No, they shouldn't. But that's no excuse for you.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  16. smartaz

    ....um....

    August 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  17. Apple Bush

    I remember quite well why I hated church so much as a child (and now). BORING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • The Sandman

      There are a lot of churches out there that are boring, but that's why you gotta find the right one to join. If you're looking for a church to get connected to, I suggest searching for one in your area via Google, and you can usually tell just by their website to see how up-to-date they are. I've seen churches that are fundamental suit-and-tie-every-Sunday churches, and I've seen ones that truly reach out to our generation. There are churches out there that put a great effort to help build relationships, and those are the ones to look out for.

      Sandman out.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • bostontola

        You must live in a black and white world if you regard this as hate. I don't hate Christianity, I don't hate Christians. They are all groups of normal people with the same strengths and weaknesses as any other group of people. The difference is Christians are powerful, so their mistakes can injure others much more.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  18. kendallpeak

    I don't know where the author goes to church, but I know my church. We have parties galore. My social life has never been so joyfully active. As a prodigal son, I can attest that in my previous ways we also partied. Those parties usually ended with drunken arguments, people getting sick, sometimes endangered marriages. I prefer Christian partying.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian party time!! Pass the cookies and bad music!!

      August 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
      • Troll Hunter

        Oh the trolls are out in force today. It is going to be a good Troll Hunting day.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • Troll

          Yeah, there one troll called troll hunter who is quite active. Trolling for trolls is still trolling.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:12 am |
        • Troll Hunter

          It is kinda a hobby of mine. I like to hunt you little keyboard twerps down and call you out on your nonsense.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • Mopery

        Aww yeah, boy-E, party down with the ginger ale and cupcakes!

        August 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

          Hate.

          August 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  19. One one

    At least Catholics have bingo.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  20. Apple Bush

    Tilted, unarticulated, frightened, misaligned and beautiful.

    Worship it freedom of the freakish in the fashion fantasy; wrong door.

    Then why the bones? Why the mangled images and wealthy gamblers?

    Time to control and succeed; crayons in a box of pewter.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:17 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.