My relationship with Christ is something I take great pride in. I work at it. It ebbs at times because of my lack of devotion, not His. Some days are easier than others. In some circles, it is accepted, but not popular. In others, it is not accepted or popular. I have encountered as much of the latter in churches as I have in the world. Admittedly, I am an evangelical. I am not passive about my faith. I do not consider being a Christian a southern American principle. If I am a follower of the Nazarene I am bound to see the world through His perspective, not that of the world or the many churches that do not jive with His words. It has been that way since Christ came and died in the flesh.
Many of my blogs focus on the sovereignty of God. In an age of “do whatever you want and it’s all OK,” we have lost sight of the divine dominion of Almighty God. This has always been true in the world, but today, some churches are not much different. Many in the church have fallen for the lie the world tells: that there are no absolutes, no truth, no right and wrong. Those who believe these deceptions must ask themselves: “What is my faith placed in? Are there idols I am worshipping?”
God speaks of the importance of these questions in Exodus 20:3-7:
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His Name.
Most believers will recognize this passage of Scripture as describing the first three of the Ten Commandments given to Moses. All three deal with the sovereignty of God and the separation of God and man. Many churches now write off the Old Testament as “pre-Jesus,” and therefore feel it does not matter. Seeing how Jesus taught specifically on the Ten Commandments, I am not convinced a true follower of Christ can simply write them off.
I talk to several people of faith over the course of a typical week. I use those chats to gain insight, learn, and grow. I have a variety of spiritual mentors. Christianity is not just something I do on Sunday. It forms who I am as a person. One of the main aspects of being a Christian is realizing your absolute need for the life-saving grace of Jesus Christ. Once having accepted that grace, you are honor bound and mission-driven to share that message with others who need it.
How can we share it if we make no effort to be active in our faith? Sure, we can call ourselves Christians, but we could just as easily call ourselves aardvarks. I am personally pained by all those who call themselves Christians but have no knowledge of the Christ that they profess. Todd Agnew may have said it the best when he sang, “If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do you look so much like the world?”
The Church, now and forever, must square itself with the fact that it is separate from the world. If it begins to imitate the world, to look like the world, or to think the way the world thinks, it is no longer the church. One of the most convicting, and terrifying, verses in the entire Bible is Matthew 7:22-23: “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Not a couple. Not a few. Many.
Jesus says He will turn away those who are not truly His followers. This contradicts the hippy Jesus image many churches paint nowadays. The “God is love” statement is true, but only when paired with the “God is just” statement. God is equal parts love and justice. A friend and I were recently chatting, and I said Jesus is equal parts love and justice; you have to choose which side you end up on. No, he said, when you accept Christ, Christ receives the judgement that was meant for you. Therefore you are the recipient of His love while He takes your judgment. It is lofty ideas like this that the church is missing.
Many say that the church is faltering because our message no longer resonates. In truth, the church is faltering because it has abandoned the “city on the hill” approach that has worked since the time of Christ. The Church was never meant to agree with culture or even to war against it. It was designed to point all of culture, and therefore humanity, to the cross. The Church was to be the gut check for culture, to rein in the evil of men. Now, churches do well getting people to show up on Sunday mornings. Forget evangelism, forget calls of repentance, and forget showing a clear distinction between good and evil. “We don’t want to judge” is the catchphrase.
And on that point, I agree. It is not our place to judge the lost. It is our place to point the world to the One who will judge us all. The judgement will come down to a yes or no question. Did you know Jesus as your Savior? Our multi-option world thinks this line of thinking is out of touch with reality. If this world in its current state is reality, I am more than happy to be considered out of touch.
Psalm 14:1 reads, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The church today is guilty of the same sin. We have forgotten the God we say we serve. We have abandoned His principles but still demand His prosperity. We have refused to fall at His feet begging for forgiveness because we have fallen for the lie that we are entitled to it.
God spoke to the heart of every person who believes he is in control of his own life in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
How do you want God to describe you? As a mirror of your culture and your world, or as a mirror of the Savior who took the wrath and judgment of God in your place?