It has been a bit of time since I’ve updated the blog, seems everytime I get it updated and get ready to post again, life gets itself into a huge busy mess and the blog takes a backseat to the aforementioned life. So, naturally, since it’s been over a month, there is a lot to update and share. This is the start of a 3 part series that will have my point of view about conformity, compassion and the corporate mindset of the modern church. So sit down and buckle in as I spend some time with some things that have been on my heart for a good while.
The first issue I would like to discuss is about conformity. Everywhere we look in our modern day culture we see the effects of conformity. From federal laws to entertainment, from school policies to church structure and operation. Throughout scripture, we are given the example of how to live, how to love, and how to fellowship as a body of believers. So many times people in our country want to tell the church how to exist, what to say, and what is ok to preach. The sad thing is, that many churches are falling into the mindset that the only way to get people in the door is to fall in line and just make everyone happy by preaching and teaching what I call “fluffy bunnies and butterfly theology.” We conform to the point of telling people that Hell is a figurative place, and that a loving God would never send people to a place of screaming, fire, and pure misery. Well, they are partially right about that, as it’s been said before, God doesn’t send people to Hell, people send people to Hell. You may be asking what on earth am I talking about. God created us to worship and glorify Him, but we were also given free will to choose how we will live our lives. When we choose sin, as Adam and Eve did in the garden, we choose a punishment of death. Hell is a very real place, people who think that it is not are misleading and misinforming. It is an unsettling and unfortunate trend to see how many churches are turning toward that mindset. The only way to avoid this punishment is to believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord and that He was raised from the dead. Period. No exceptions. You can’t be good enough as Jehova’s Witnesses and Mormon’s would have you believe, you can’t have salvation because you were baptized as a baby, and salvation doesn’t come just because you were baptized. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift, of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9, these verses spell it out exactly. When churches won’t even speak the name of Jesus, but instead want to preach about how coming to church and singing songs and having a dandy time are what saves you, we have conformed. These are the churches who experience exponential growth in short periods. Joel Osteen is an example of a pastor at a church who has said that Christ is not the only way to Heaven, and in his sermons has said that if you are a christian, you were not meant to live a hard life. This is what we call the gospel of prosperity, and he has a following of about 6000 members in his church as well as several book deals and televised services each week. Now, if his ministry was founded on Christ being the only way to heaven, do you think he would be as successful as he is now? I believe that he would not, and let me explain why I feel this way. The gospel of Christ will turn some away. Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 1:18-19, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'”
The thing that these ministries overlook is a pretty big thing; the teachings of Christ. They like to point out that Christ was compassionate, but they overlook the fact that Christ also kept those who followed Him and believed in Him accountable. Accountability is something that I see a huge lack of in many of today’s mega-churches. These churches a lot of times will have small groups that meet throughout the week, but I see the facebook status updates and pictures of those people who were at their small groups on Tuesday, out bar hoppin’ on Thursday and Saturday nights. Now, before you all start saying “Phillip, are you casting stones?,” let me say that I have no right to judge, but I do have a responsibility to hold those who claim to be believers accountable as Christ did, and I expect no different from those who are believers to hold me accountable when they see me living contrary to the Gospel I proclaim. The conformity we see now is that of our culture’s norms. We are urged by Paul, as was the Roman church, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. This means to die for the glory of God every day, everywhere, and in everything. The next part of that verse is to consider that Paul says not to be conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What does it mean to be transformed by the renewing of our minds? We are born with a sin nature, anyone who has kids can tell you that we are born sinful. Our minds are not focused on what God has for us and we are not trained to look for His guidance in our lives from the time we are born. We have to be shown, or led to the knowledge of who Christ is, and only when we give ourselves to Him and choose to believe and know that He died for our sins. Once that happens, our minds can be renewed, and then and only then we can discern what His good, pleasing, and perfect will is for our lives. So, in summation, when we have true salvation in Christ, we will not conform to what our culture says is ok, we will choose to look to the cross for our guidance and wisdom instead of that which comes from our peers.
I know this is a potentially controversial topic in many areas, but the fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t be. Scripture is very clear about how we are to live our lives, when we decide we don’t like what scripture says, or that we want to pick and choose scripture that meets our needs for each different situation, we are putting God in a box and trying to make Him our pet. God is God, He is all-powerful, almighty, and we will have no idea what His plans are for our lives unless we seek Him continually and wholeheartedly.
I will be releasing the last two segments of this series within the next week to two weeks, and be sure to be reading because there will be a CD giveaway contained in one of the posts. Thanks, and God Bless!