Okay friends… this post is going to come with a warning that some of you (maybe many of you) are not going to like what you are about to read. But feel free to leave an opposing comment. I just ask that you seriously think through your response and that you are respectful in doing so.
I’m not one who sits silently very easily. Especially when it comes to deviating from God, God’s Word, or God’s way.
Years ago, I sat among a group of people in which I knew someone was very clearly coercing the conversation in order to tell only 1/2 of a very important and influential story.
Sitting silent was not an option for me then, and it’s not an option for me now.
Silence perpetuates fallacy, whether intentionally or unintentionally. But truth sets us free. Just ask Jesus. He will tell you the same thing (John 8:32). But the truth isn’t always easy to digest. Being a voice dedicated to resonating the truth in a world full of lies parallels the life of a salmon swimming upstream. Always hard. But necessary.
And truth is worth the risk.
Truth. Penetratingly, perpetual truth exposing motivations and setting consciences afire with a decisive resolve to exist on the edge of compromise or recklessly leap to the side of truth by faith.
Buckle up because ready or not, here I go…
Perhaps like me, you’ve noticed a progressively obvious shift in our 21st century Christian experience. Somewhat subtly, unlike a crash landing, the new norm in Christianity may have seized upon us more like the proverbial frog in a pot. Slowly, the heat is turned up, the frog comes to a boil – completely unaware of it’s own devastating destiny.
There’s a consumerism and commercialization of Christianity and a disturbing deviation from what it means to know and live for God.
Here, in my little space in cyberspace, I want to share with you 3 ways in which our shift in Christianity is not only disturbing, it has eternally destructive ramifications.
1. A CLEAR SHIFT OF FOCUS FROM CHRIST TO THE CHRISTIAN
With a plethora of systemic symptoms, the most apparent diagnosis is that somewhere along the way, we started making Christianity more about us and less about Christ.
Well meaning communicators (and I’m including myself) carefully craft messages to speak to the felt need of listeners and readers and begin an often unintended shift from the Creator to the creature.
Instead of making our messages about Christ, our messages are more about the Christian.
Instead of pointing people to Jesus, our books, blogs, articles, and talks seem to all revolve around ourselves.
Don’t believe me? Scan the book titles at your local Christian bookstore. Look at the list of speaking topics from some of your favorite speakers. What do you see? NOT ALL… but many of the titles and topics are focused on us and our needs.
A clear shift from about 20 or so years ago when most of what we read and heard focused on Christ, who He is, what He calls us to, His glory, His goodness, His holiness, His Word, His will, His ways.
The human needs of the heart are undeniably real. And we need to meet those needs. But rather than using our needs as the foundation of what we are communicating, shouldn’t we focus on Christ as the foundation? Shouldn’t our books, blogs, articles and talks concentrate on the cornerstone of the truth that Christ is the only One who can meet those needs.
Have we become our own magnificent obsession?
This dangerous shift to focusing on the Christian instead of focusing on the Christ has become a catalyst for consumer driven Christianity and perpetuates a counterfeit Gospel.
What a far cry we are from the kind of Christian that asks not what Jesus can do for them but what they can do for Jesus!
What a far cry we are from the kind of Christian experience that doesn’t revolve around the needs and the desires of the Christian, but is bent on living a courageous, authentic faith regardless of the circumstances and taking the Gospel to the nations no matter the cost!
What a far cry we are from the kind of Christian reality experienced by our mothers and fathers of the faith. People like Paul, Peter, Stephen, and James. Christians whose lives line the pages of Foxes Book of Martyrs…men and women who sacrificed their livelihoods and their lives to remain true to the name of Christ.
- Men and women who understood that all-in meant more than a cool catch phrase but, instead, it could mean their very existence (and the existence of their children) on this planet.
- Men and women like William Carey, David Livingstone, George Muller, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Jim and Elizabeth Elliott, Rachel Saint.
- Men and women who understood the Gospel wasn’t about power, prestige, position, or a paycheck. It wasn’t about making a name for themselves but making His name known.
- It wasn’t about how much money they could make by sharing the Gospel, but how much of themselves they could give away for the cause of Christ…even if it cost them everything.
May we learn from those who have gone before us how to live Christ-focused, selfless lives as an example to those who will come after us.
2. A CLEAR SHIFT FROM SERVANTHOOD TO STARDOM
Somehow, our cultural Christianity has fueled the creation of Christian celebrities. Wide-eyed followers flock to the next popular pastor or Bible teacher, hungry for their cool catch phrases and carefully-crafted concepts as if each word was manna from Heaven.
The majority of those popular pastors and Bible teachers aren’t seeking fame or fortune. They are just following hard after a calling God has placed upon their lives… to know Him and make Him known. But somewhere along the way, not all, but some of them, just get sucked into the system and their calling becomes more about themselves and less about the One who called them in the first place.
So, how does it happen? How do servants of the Most High God wind up with stardom staring them straight in the face and the need for fame finding its home in their hearts?
It’s such a slow fade! One minute your mind whirls with excitement at every small opportunity God gives you to share His Word with a handful of people. The next thing you know you’re in demand and you’re speaking to the masses who hang on every word.
In recent years, there have been a scads of scandalous samples of the damage that is done by the misrepresentation of Scripture when various Christian stars make statements that may be culturally correct but are biblically inaccurate.
As a writer and Bible teacher, I know how easy it is to slip into a market-driven ministry mode and succumb to the pressure of branding yourself, building your platform, and making yourself known.
While whimsical voices echo enlightened instruction about how to market yourself, amass massive audiences, and become the next big thing, God’s Word calls us to quite the opposite.
“43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
1 Corinthians 4:1-2,
“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
“4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
2 Corinthians 2:17,
“17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”
1 Peter 5:2,
“2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;”
Somewhere along the line, servanthood has given way to stardom and significance seems to be found in who is holding the mic instead of who is washing feet.
Christian leaders clamoring for the top, captivating audiences with trendy titles, requesting escalating speaking fees, marketing themselves, and as they lose their focus to make Christ known, they become more bent on making themselves known.
May we not fail to realize that some of the greatest impacts for Christ are being made by some of the most obscure people on the planet. Many of the loudest voices for Jesus don’t resonate conference halls, but instead, they quietly whisper a word from the Word and give their lives to make Christ known to those who have nothing to give back.
Oh Lord, reverse the shift! Remove the stars from our eyes and create a servant’s heart in our souls that beats with the joy of serving others instead of the thrill of being praised by them!
3. A CLEAR SHIFT FROM BIBLICAL TRUTH TO CULTURAL TOLERANCE
With a moral crisis clamoring to eclipse our country, the pressure is on for Christians to chime in on every cultural issue of the day.
- What do you believe about abortion?
- What do you believe about feminism?
- What do you believe about homosexuality?
- What do you believe about transgenders?
- What do you believe about organized religion?
- Is Jesus really the only Way to Heaven?
- What do you believe about drinking?
- What do you believe about smoking a joint?
The world wants answers, but they only want the answers they’re comfortable with. And the Christians seem to be conceding to say what the world wants to hear in the name of tolerance and due to a misunderstanding of God’s grace and love.
There’s an unending list of cultural questions craving answers from Christianity, yet wanting the answers to sound a lot like the world.
Our answers to every cultural question should simply be, “Let’s see what the Bible says.”
The answer isn’t found in what we believe. What we believe is subject to our own ability to understand. The answer is found in what God’s Word says period. It’s not what we believe. It’s what God’s Word says. That’s the answer to every cultural question of the day.
Famished for comfortable answers that don’t confront questionable conduct, the world insists that Christians believe what the world accepts as acceptable rather than what Bible says is true.
And Christians are caving to the cultural call to approve what God calls sin and remain silent in the name of tolerance.
Some Christians simply don’t know what God’s Word says because they are new to the faith, don’t know how to study Scripture, or haven’t taken the time to dig in and find out what it says.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the Christians in the pews who lack the knowledge or refuse to speak the truth, it’s the ones with mics in their hands and audiences who are listening who proclaim a distorted version of the truth for itchy ears and wanton hearts.
Love means loving someone enough to lovingly share the truth.
Not for the sake of heaping condemnation, but because eternity is real, and validating sin will only perpetuate it, and ultimately this life isn’t about this life. We will all stand before God. We will all answer for this life we live under the sun.
Jesus bestows uncommon grace to those who receive Him and call Him Lord. The kind of grace that paves the pathway from the Great White Throne to the Bema Seat of Christ. From eternal condemnation, torment, and separation in the Lake of Fire to eternal peace with God surrounded by His presence and the presence of your forever family in Heaven.
Avoiding the truth so that you can concur with the cultural isn’t an act of love, it’s treachery.
People’s eternities are at stake and the only answer is Jesus!
We can’t keep validating sin while people are going to hell thinking they’re okay because some well-meaning Christian told them God was good with what they were doing.
Sinners in need of a Savior don’t need to hear they are fine and that God’s goodness somehow means that He doesn’t judge sin.
They need to hear the truth. They need the opportunity to at least embrace or reject what God’s Word says based on what it actually does say rather than some well-meaning Christian’s version of it.
Somewhere along the way, there has been a clear shift from biblical truth to cultural tolerance and people are splitting hell wide open because Christians don’t know or refuse to tell them the truth.
Threaded throughout God’s Word is the answer to every question of the human heart and the solution to each sinner’s need for a Savior.
Jesus is the answer. Why would we tell them anything else? God’s Word holds the key to a life of love, peace, hope, and joy. Why would we distort the truth to make it fit what the world wants to hear instead of loving them enough to tell them what they need to hear?
I fear for a world where Christianity becomes consumeristic and commercialized and we deviate from what it means to know and to live for God.
It isn’t what we are called to.
We were called to know Him and make Him known.
We were called to give freely what was freely given to us.
We were called to set our affections on things above and not on things of this earth.
We were called to walk humbly with the Lord our God.
We were called to serve in humility, love unconditionally, and give sacrificially.
Revival is desperately needed in our world today. But revival doesn’t come when we embrace the sin Jesus died to save us from. Revival comes when repentance is the posture and pursuit of our hearts.
And we, God’s grace-gifted children, have the privilege and the responsibility to live the Christian life as it was meant to be lived. To know Him and make Him know.
REMEMER, THIS POST CAME WITH A WARNING. I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS.
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