Meanity is a word I’ve made up. It has nothing to do with being mean. It is MEanity, not MEANity. Meanity is the worship of self in the guise of being a Christian. Meians look a lot like Christians. They use the same vocabulary, participate in the same behaviors. They read the same books and they go to the same churches. But there are a number of clear distinctions that differentiate a Meian from a Christian.
Meians live their religion on their terms. They decide what they want to believe and how they want to live. They will believe all the “nice” stuff about Christianity, but if it starts violating their cultural norms, they ignore it. Is the idea of hell just a bit much? Well theologize it into nonexistence. Does the idea of caring for the poor, the weak, the stranger in our midst violate their pocketbook and political paradigm? Don’t think about it. Meanity will never ask hard questions about comfortable lifestyle or convictions.
Meanity is focused primarily on ME. It is based on what I want, what I like, what we’ve always done; if it is good for me. Meians don’t have a hard time with Jesus, because they really don’t pay much attention to what he really said. They don’t think deeply about his pointed statements. They don’t look at his life as a model for their lives; they have theological explanations to avoid that. Jesus fits very nicely into Meanity as a famous religious figure and a guy to decorate walls with. They are particularly partial to a clean, good looking, Jesus, with combed hair. He is obviously a Jesus of Scandinavian, German or English heritage. We could call this Meaity Jesus.
Meanity has a secondary focus on religion. It likes comfortable consistency. It wants to know that whatever happens, it doesn’t take them by surprise or challenge the status quo. Meanity will put a lot of focus on, the décor of the building, the pot luck social or “order of worship,” without ever actually worshiping the one the order of worship is supposed to be focused on. Meians main questions about religion are does this minister to ME and does this make ME uncomfortable.
Meians have a don’t ask-do tell policy. They don’t ask Jesus what he wants to do in any given situation. In place of asking Jesus, they have board meetings, staff meetings and executive decisions. On the personal level, meians just do whatever feels good at the time. But when meians do pray, they spend a good deal of time telling Jesus what needs to get done to fulfill their agenda.
When you officially group meians, you have another religious phenomenon called Churchianity. Churchianity is meian group think. It asks questions like: What does the denominational policy manual state? What color of paint will best attract visitors? How can we get 10% more in the budget so we can fix the roof? Is that pastor’s messages just a bit too boring or pointed? I wonder how that kind of person ended up here at our church? Just as with singular meians, those participating in Churchianity never seem to pause to ask Jesus what to do. Although they have been known to let Jesus know where he needs to catch up to the program; if the church program is going be successful.
Christianity, on the other hand is CHRISTianity. It is focused on Christ. It wants to know what he is doing and how he wants Christians to participate in his plan. Christians are CHRISTians. Their prayer is as much or more about listening as it is about telling. And more than anything else, they live the Christian pledge of allegiance: Jesus is Lord.
- Do you think it would be easy or hard to differentiate a meian from a Christian?
- Is the Western Church more meian or Christian? What about your denomination or church?
- Like me, can you notice elements of meaity in the way you live your relationship with Jesus?
- What action steps are needed to make sure we actually live our pledge of allegiance, Jesus is Lord?