I'm currently re-reading Darrow Miller's excellent book, LifeWork. In it, he relates the following:
"A number of years ago, a missionary to the Philippines met with some young people who were thinking of joining the Maoist rebels. The missionary asked the leader of the group what he had found so compelling in Maoism that he could not experience in Christianity. The young man's answer proved a profound critique, not of Christ and his claims but of the reality and practice of Christianity today:
'Maoism provides us...with four essential things: (1) a unified and coherent vision of the world, history and reality; (2) a definite goal to work for, live for, and die for; (3) a call to all people for a common fraternity; and (4) a sense of commitment and a mission to spread the good news that there is hope for the hopeless. The fact is that the Christian faith in all its beauty seems to be unable to provide us with such a vision.'
"Sadly," Miller continues, "the missionary watched these young and idealistic people turn their backs on what they know of Christianity and embrace something that would lead to their destruction. But why?"
Miller maintains: "The very things the young Filipinos and much of the rest of the world are looking for--a coherent view of reality, something to live for and die for, a sense of community, and something that would bring hope to the hopeless--are nothing less than what they were made for and what Christ gave himself for: the kingdom of God. The world is waiting to see this kingdom demonstrated through our lives and in our daily work."
Why would a young man say the Christian faith seems to be unable to provide as compelling a vision as Maoism? This is a question Miller explores in depth, and addresses straightforwardly in LifeWork.
"Often," he says, "our lives as Christians are ineffective because we have reduced the gospel to good news for eternity and have forgotten the good news for today. Too often we understand our lives as having two distinct separate parts: the spiritual part of life and the rest of life, our time in religious activities and our time at school or work. We have reduced Christianity to the personal and private sphere, living everyday lives little different from those of others in our society."
More on Miller's book next week.