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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. Vic

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    August 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Apple Bush

      @Vic

      Of what? Didn't he pass on a while back?

      August 24, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  2. angie

    great blog. you people need to lighten up. no wonder people think we're exclusive. we attack our own.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      God is exclusive.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • One one

        Really ? I thought he loved everyone.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  3. Adam

    The main point of the article was to show the love of God. It is the same way as the father showed it to his son who ran away. It also shows God's willingness to forgive sinners to the uttermost even if they have "gone too far" if they are willing to turn back to Him.

    P.S. I recommend watching "The Tale of Two Sons" by John MacArthur on YouTube regarding the Prodigal Son.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  4. Wendy Page

    Excellent Jon!!! Makes me want to START a party!

    August 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • One one

        Are you the "prayer changes things" person? You both have similar styles and I know he/she uses multiple screen names.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  5. Apple Bush

    Bunnikinesis:
    Using undiscovered evidence, non-scientists’ suggest that rabbits a.k.a “bunnies” or [Lepus curpaeums] have the ability to remove treats from a bag using only their minds.

    ~wikipoops.com

    August 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

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

        Now you have gone to far lol. NOBODY hates bunnies.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  6. One one

    Jesus was a party animal. He turned water into wine so everyone could get wasted.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Hmmm....very clever.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

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

      lol, how can you hate that? Who could have possibly thought of such a brilliant and non-obvious original joke??

      August 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  7. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Wow, these haters are so boring. Can't you join a movement or sumpin', like as in bowel??

    August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Apple Bush

      You represent our collective BM, and it seems you have diarrhea.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        Hate.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Verified.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  8. Apple Bush

    Pneumonic Mob

    No air
    Don’t care
    I’m dead
    Not fair
    Slaves
    Each and every one
    Slaves
    Them too
    Children left with what?
    Children left with acid.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  9. Apple Bush

    You know, God did not have to create Christians. It was a poor decision and boredom has been the long term consequence. Blame boring ol' God.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  10. Dustin

    You have your points all wrong.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Who does and why?

      August 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  11. Toad

    If you're going to be heavily invested in the most common, mainstream beliefs available to you, if you're just going to believe what you're told to believe, how are you going to be something other than boring? People who just buy in to mainstream patriotism and religion, who are satisfied with the spiritual Blue Plate Special, are boring to their core.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  12. SouthernFriedInfidel

    I enjoy my trips to church with my believing wife every week... but that's because the pastor is a great friend and we enjoy talking religion and philosophy. But IMO, there are plenty of churches that could be IMPROVED by becoming boring. Such is life, I reckon

    August 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  13. myrtle may

    Christianity isn't boring, but I don't even understand the premise that it should be party-filled & fun. I'm guessing it's a generational thing. I'm part of the generation that has to do the cooking & cleaning for all the parties.

    Jesus' first miracle is at a party. There are many Christian festivals that are essentially parties. There's music, feasting. What's boring aside from certain preachers who should market themselves as soporifics?

    If you find any religion that whoops it up all the time – legally – and manages to produce caring, responsible citizens in droves, please e-mail me.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  14. tsrollin

    Well written article Jon. I love this story and wish the world was more like the father.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  15. Katie1970

    I'm sorry for all who don't "get" God and Christianity. As a child, church was the place where I had to give up half of my Sunday, while trying to stay still and quiet. After a period of indifference after my very secular college education, I came back to God in a very natural way. Church made me feel renewed and blessed. Prayer eased my burdens. No, I don't always go to church. Sometimes I get so busy and frantic I don't even work in a word of thanks in prayer for days at a time. But I will always be a believer and know that the Lord walks with me. If that's boring to others, even other Christians, I'm fine with that.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • I've changed

      Ah yes-The Church of the Warm and Fuzzy Feeling.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:46 am |
      • a believer

        Church can be warm and fuzzy. It can be uplifting and nuturing. It can also be boring and hate-filled. All depends where you go and if they are truly living the truth.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Katie1970

          When my hubby and I married, we spoke to the Pastor regarding which church to join as we were moving to a new city and we were different Protestant denominations. The Pastor told us not to worry so much about denomination but instead focus on a church where the Lord was the center.....he said there were plenty of different types of "Christian" churches out there that did not teach the message of God. I didn't know what he really meant until Westboro showed up on the news. As with anything, Caveat Emptor.

          August 25, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Katie1970

        Perhaps the "Religion of Peace" would be more to your liking if Christianity is too "warm and fuzzy?" And note, the Hell portion of Christianity is most definitely NOT "warm and fuzzy."

        August 25, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • a believer

      Katie1970 — a wonderful post.
      I believe that to know God is by experiencing God in you life. I used to find church, when I was younger, boring and without a real message (and still do at times) but I know at my core that God is real and with me every day.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
      • Katie1970

        I think ours are the more typical Christian experiences.....we tend to be more Christian when we need God.....and yet he is still there for us.

        August 25, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  16. tony

    Make more babies who won't have the money to go to college

    August 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Katie1970

      Are you confusing all Christians with Catholics???

      August 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  17. Apple Bush

    Christians miss the point the atheists are laughing at them. Boring, not boring, who cares? It's all stupid.

    August 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Katie1970

      You miss the point that Christians don't CARE if athiests laugh at us. We don't even think about you generally. And we know you won't be laughing in the next life. As far as this life, I've never met an athiest who was brave enough to laugh to my face....only from behind an anonymous keyboard. People might fear a lot in this world, but anonymous making fun of/laughing isn't one of them....only one reason athiests are not the sharpest crayon in the box, as your post so aptly demonstrated.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • Apple Bush

        You DO care. A lot. As proven by your own post. You are thinking about me right now. No next life, so you can stop lying. I use the term figuratively. I am respectful to people to their face. But on the blog I can tell you how stupid you are. The sharpest crayon doesn’t not always understand the subtly of shades of gray.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:36 am |
        • Katie1970

          Reading comprehension my friend.....I stated, "We don't even think about you GENERALLY." Meaning 99.9% of my time, you are not even on the fringes of my mind. But yes, when discussing Christianity on a comment board and a disdainful atheist post pops up, I am going to respond to it, so for that minute moment in time, I am thinking about you. But how successful is your mission if you have to be "in my face" incessantly to occupy any of my thoughts or cares? Actually, if I spend time on the negative, it's usually Islam or Westboro.......they at least know how to get press and keep their name in the news.

          August 25, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • I've changed

        Ah yes-The Church of the You're going to Rot Forever Threat.Nice one.

        August 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • a believer

          Valid statement. There is toooo much of this judgementalism in a lot of "Organized Religion".
          Believing in God is not really about after we're dead, there are many who are dead (living in their own hell) now, just look at the news. I believe that Heaven and Hell isn't an after-death thing, it's what we are experiencing now. If we could all live, love, respect each other (as God would like) it could be called heaven. If we live with hate, disrespect, oppress others it could be called hell. Just my opinion.

          August 24, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Katie1970

          It isn't a threat. It is a basic tenet of Christianity. You can't really discuss Christianity and leave out Heaven and Hell, any more than you can leave out the Jesus Christ, Son of God, part. I'm sure you're not offended though that in Islam, any nonbeliever is an Infidel and needs to be killed on this earth. Spare me the selective outrage. All religions teach a reward for their followers and an unsavory ending for disbelievers. To the liberal American atheist or agnostic, the Christian one is the only one that is offensive.

          August 25, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  18. Theseus

    Christianity should be gone!

    August 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • One one

        Hate

        August 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  19. tony

    Make more babies without health care! Wheee!

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

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  20. Apple Bush

    Topher, how you doing anyway man. How is the job?

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

      Hate.

      August 24, 2013 at 10:30 am |
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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.