Monday, December 20, 2010

The Immature Church

My Mom and Dad just showed me an article by Jaynan Clark, the president of the Word Alone Network.  Rather than speak for her, I will just copy down what I consider to be the 'meat' of what she has to say.

{ "We are living in a time that publicly despises such a proclamation (referencing the Gospel message).  We have denied our sinful state to the point of not even wanting to talk about "sin" anymore because it is such a "downer".  Our refusal to acknowledge its dominion over us has resulted in a context that inhales and exhales as hedonistic, narcissistic, defiant spoiled children.  Some of these "children" are in their sixties and seventies, and have never put the lessons of the 1960's into perspective. The free love, self-gratification, "I'm OK--You're OK, so get out of my face, who are you to tell me how to live, slaves to the self and the pursuit of personal happiness folks are running the show.  They are in positions of leadership in government, business and denominational churches.  The "me" generation has not yet accepted that their "me-ness" is the ultimate First Commandment violation.  Putting oneself in the place of God has dire consequences for all.

This celebration of the self--belief in the divine spark of goodness within, rejection of absolute truth claims, belief in the Gospel without the law, redefined freedom that applauds action without consequences, redefined love that is a tepid tolerance, and blind acceptance of everyone and everything--has led to this place and time when reevangelization is our primary calling.  It must begin in the very churches that pass out this other religion of "selfism" as if it was their "mother god's" milk." }

She has a lot of great and challenging things to say, many that I have been thinking about before.  One of the more profound things for me was her statement that the churches main goal is reevangelizism.  Do you know what that means? It means that the 'Christians' in the church don't know the Gospel and that our leaders must devote themselves to tell these, 'supposed Christians,' who Jesus is.   Scripturally this is not the purpose of the Church.  Today's church is immature; in reading acts and the epistles of Paul, there is a stark contrast in the structure, courage, integrity, and depth within the first 'church' than there is today.  The church isn't supposed to evangelize to itself, evangelism is supposed to be for the expansion of the Kingdom of God that already exists.  Rather those within the church should be equipping and discipling one another to evangelize... we have a long way to go.  Reevangelism must happen before we can reach maturity. This of course is a call to action. Lets get to it, there is no better time than now!

"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Therefore Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And God permitting, we will do so." Hebrews 5:11-14  -- 6:1-3

"Enemy-occupied territory - that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage." - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.


"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the World.  That is why the world hates you." John 16:21

"They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.  For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." John 17:16-19

"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." 1 Peter 2:11

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a savior from there, The Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20

So I have had this idea going through my head for quite a while.  I do not assert that it is a unique idea to the world; but this past year it has been a unique idea for myself.  It is the idea of detachment.  It is my belief that being detached/disconnected to the world is good and beneficial, while being attached and connected is actually negative.  Now before I say what I think detachment is, I want to say what I think it is not.  Detachment is not something that encourages laziness or contentment.  It does not allow for immature and rash behavior, nor does it render people stoic and unfeeling.  Rather it is quite the opposite.  It is a state of being that helps us fully engage with the life that God wants for us here on this Earth.  It is an acceptance of life to its greatest degree, a recognition of what is and what can be!

In order to understand this idea of detachment, it is first important to understand how it comes about.  Detachment revolves solely around God, for if it was about me personally I would not be detached.  As most of you who are reading this have experienced, life before Christ = life in this world.  Being a part of this world means that we are very dependent and attached to it.  Our decisions revolve around our feelings and desires, we are guided not by what is right and wrong but by what is most convenient or easy.  We worry more about how we appear to others, then how we can help them.  We are plagued with insecurity, self righteousness, jealousy, bitterness, and an all encompassing yearning for acceptance. ( I feel like I always need to buffer my statements, so that my few 'followers' don't get the wrong idea.  I am not trying to say that Christians don't deal with these things, but that our deepest desire as Christians is to conform to God, not the world.  To read more of this see previous blog).

Something miraculous happens when we are transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ.  We know we are accepted!  Death no longer prevails over our lives, for we are promised eternity in Heaven!  Our perception suddenly, or gradually, changes; we now think "this life isn't about is about God."  How profound a revelation, what peace it can bring, if only we accept it.

Detachment then, is living my life for God rather than for myself.  As Christians we want to strive to glorify God in all things, for this is the only thing that matters.  My happiness comes second to doing what God wants, my well being also drops in priority.  No longer am I in the American "pursuit of happiness," but in the Christ like "pursuit of God".  God is so much better than happiness, although more often than not he fills us with Joy.

Detachment from the world and attachment to God revolutionizes how we make choices.  Decisions now are more influenced by who God is and what God wills, than by my feelings, others opinions, or my personal expectations.  As Christians we want to conform to God; what God sees as good we ought to see as good, what God sees as bad we ought to see as bad.  Things that make God angry and sad ought to make us angry and sad.  Likewise what makes God happy and joyful ought to make us happy and joyful.  The Sacrifice of Jesus, which gives us access to God and entrance to Heaven,  allows us to become detached from this world.  This detachment allows us to glorify God, to let Christ live through us, and to proclaim the Gospel through all things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I probably should not be spending time on this now with finals going on, but it has been on my mind.  Being at Concordia I am very exposed to the 'liberal' side of Christianity.  However, I'm slowly coming to think it may not be Christianity after all.  Our country is moving towards a relativistic view of God.  I would like to look at just a few 'lies' that are being spread.

1.  Using our talents, in general, is glorifying to God.  God just wants us to utilize what he has given us.
This is a lie.  It says in 1 Peter 4:10-11 "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."  Therefore when we use our gifts, not only should we recognize who gave them to us, but also for whom we are using them for.  We should use them not for our own purposes, but for the purposes of God.  We need to cognitively seek God in everything that we do.  When we utilize our gifts and talents we do them because of God and for God.  This is much different than merely using them because we can misuse our talents and our gifts.  For instance I have always struggled with pride, and I often use my gifts for my own glory.  I can try to justify it saying, "I'm really doing it for God." But in reality I only care about how it makes me appear and affects me within this world.  We, as humans, are fantastic at lying to others and even more so to ourselves. 

 2.  Similarly people today want to say, if we do good things, and if we are good people; then we are seeking God.
This is a LIE. Romans 3:10-12, "As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."  God is the only good.  When Christians do good things, we do them as a response to what God has already done.  All glory to God.  Over and over in scripture, we are instructed to give God the glory.  Even Jesus humbled himself and did not think himself equal with the father. We cannot do anything to gain salvation, we cannot do anything to attain oneness with God.  If we strive  for liberty, justice, peace, love, unity, or saving the environment, but do not seek God; then our lives are meaningless. 

3. The biggest lie of them all is that loving people is the same as loving God. 
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27.  This shows that loving God and loving others are two different things.  Now loving God incorporates loving others, but not the other way around.  Now all three of these are connected and very similar; so what conclusion can we draw from them.

"What is your deepest desire?" By deduction from above, if one says, "Being a good person, living life to the fullest, or doing everything to the best of my ability," then they are not Christian.  If this is their deepest desire then they are making those things their God.

However a Christian is someone who has been transformed by Jesus Christ.  A Christian is someone who loves the lord, not because of what they have done, but because of what He has done. Their lives are changed not because of knowledge, but because of understanding. If a person is Christian they will answer somewhat like this.  "My deepest desire is to know God.  To be in a closer relationship with him.  To seek him, and to strive to be like Christ."  Now this answer incorporates all the previous ones.  It includes being a good person, living life the fullest (given in a different light then most people who use that phrase), and doing everything to the best of their ability, yet it is so much more.  It is about God, not about us.

If our deepest desires revolve around ourselves, then we have it wrong.  This does not mean that a Christian does not sin; nor does it mean that a christian doesn't have sinful desires.  Rather it is a reflection of the deepest desire.  Do we desire to do what God wants us to do (by doing so we die to ourselves and find life in Christ); or do we want to utilize things for our own glory.  Its a simple yet difficult distinction between choosing ourselves or choosing God.