Sudafed Christianity

October 31st, 2013

A couple of years ago, I was dealing with a nasty cold, so I headed to my friendly neighborhood Walgreens for some Sudafed. This had been my over-the-counter decongestant of choice since college, and when I'd combined it with a decent antihistamine, I’d always been able to pretend I didn’t have a cold, even when I had a severe one. It just worked, and it worked well.

So I bought some Sudafed for my cold, started taking it, and… nothing. Maybe this is just a weird cold, I thought. The symptoms just aren’t responding to what’s always worked in the past.

Then I read the box. Active ingredient: Phenylephrine. Wait, that can’t be right. Sudafed isn’t phenylephrine, it’s pseudoephedrine. That’s why it’s called Sudafed! Hello, McFly?

So I went back to Walgreens to get to the bottom of this little pharmaceutical sham. It turns out, they had the “real” Sudafed behind the pharmacy counter. Apparently, some people like to take pseudoephedrine and make bad stuff with it. So laws have been passed to restrict the availability of it. And that’s why Pfizer started marketing the fake Sudafed (which, according to some research, is no more effective than a placebo.) I was finally able to get the real stuff, but only after signing nearly enough paperwork to close on a house. But it was worth it, because my cold symptoms virtually disappeared.

So what we have in the “fake” Sudafed is a product that looks real and still has the same name, but arguably isn’t anywhere near as effective as the original formula.

Christianity is a lot like that. More than two billion of us wear the “Christian” label, but how many of us aren’t really much different than the rest of the world? 2 Timothy 3:5 mentions people who “look like they are religious but deny God’s power.” (It also says, “Avoid people like this.”)

If we sin as much as the rest of the world, have as high of a divorce rate as everyone else, and insist on trying to solve the world’s problems using the world’s methods instead of Kingdom principles, what religion are we practicing? 

Much has been written about why young people are leaving the church. From where I sit, lack of power is one of the biggest reasons anyone leaves. I want to see the power of God working more in my life, in the church, and in the world. That starts with a solid understanding of the cross, the resurrection, and the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Weak Christianity is boring and it doesn’t really change anyone. If people can’t tell that God is moving in a church, many of them will just go elsewhere.

And who can blame them?

Shane Raynor is an editor at Ministry Matters and editor of the Converge Bible Studies series from Abingdon Press. 

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