I’m going to try to write with restraint on this topic because I have a tendency to get really irritated and defensive when it comes to people misusing and abusing our Savior, but I just have to say that I have about lost all patience with the world in the matter that brings me to you tonight. This tactic of the enemy has flown under the radar long enough and I am ready for the Church to stop buying into the talking points.
Unfortunately it is our own fault… the last generation of the Church was steeped in legalism and works mentality. Pastors and leaders manipulated “Biblical” behavior in their sheep with burdens too heavy for them to bear. Even when I grew up, I remember being told things like I might go to hell if I cursed right before a car accident or if I was caught swimming with the opposite sex. Grace was not preached (because how in the world would we make them behave if we teach them that?) and most young people in the church lived in condemnation.
At the same time, children were watching their parents live one way in front of church members and another way at home. They were hearing the pastor preach a message that there was rumor that he violated during the week. They were being TOLD one thing and watching another take place right in front of them. Hypocrisy abounded and our insightful children stopped buying it. What good was the Gospel if it only made you pretend to change? The age was one of form without power. It still is to a degree.
So as our young people started growing up and seeking authenticity, the world began to draw them with a message of “Christians are haters. Jesus is love”. It has been a duplicitous deception that has wheedled its way into our millennials. Suddenly young people are leaving behind sound Biblical foundations in a spirit of rebellion that wants nothing to do with “the haters”. They are preaching a new message… a nice, tolerant Jesus who accepts sin as the malady of the human race and demands nothing more than that we coexist…in “love”. The bad guys have become anyone who takes a stand or implies the exclusivity of the Christian faith…and make no mistake, it is exclusive. Not because it fails to welcome everyone, but because not everyone accepts the invitation.
The worst thing about this new “spin” on Jesus is that we now are letting the world tell us who Jesus is or in their words “was”. The world…writers and speakers who may have read 2 verses in the Bible (one being “Judge not”)…is driving our concept of Jesus and His message. They are deceiving us into believing that the world has a better understanding and concept of Jesus than Christians and are driving a mindset of “Christian haters” into our society. I am so sick and tired of being told what Jesus was like by people who just as easily use His Name as a swear word. I am tired of our theology being twisted by an outcry for Christians “to love” from people who have no concept of the message of the Gospel. It feels a little like children screaming at their parents “You hate me!!” because the parent is trying to do what is best for the child.
The bottom line is that the world is not the authority on Jesus…the Bible is. If you are getting your information on Jesus from the world, you will be grossly misinformed. The Gospel speaks of a Jesus who was merciful and kind and had great compassion, but He did it within the framework of His Father’s Will, never outside of it. He never broke one commandment. Yeah, you know those things that we are totally willing to smash into pieces. If you read the actual account of the life of Jesus (the whole thing…Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), you will find that much of His preaching and teaching was done in the synagogue…the “church”. You will also see that Jesus never purposely put Himself in environments of compromise. When He dealt with prostitutes, it is because they came to Him (please hear me, strip club ministry is an amazing call of God that I would not dare speak against in any way. I am only dispelling the notion that Jesus casually “hung out” in these type of environments.) As a matter of fact, most everyone came to Him. Jesus caused such a stir and was so different not so much because He was deliberately going into places where sin was celebrated, but because He was ministering to the poor, the broken, the marginalized, the “sheep without a shepherd”. Not only that, but He took at least 12 other followers EVERYWHERE He went. It wasn’t like He was going around partying it up with sinners, He was shining light into darkness and calling people OUT of it. “Go and sin no more.” He preached a message of repentance to sinners. Noone left His presence without an awareness of their dark hearts. Love calls us to repent. Love calls us to purity. Love knows that every other lifestyle will end in destruction. Love wants more for us than that.
Jesus had no tolerance for sin. How could He? It is sin that taints every good and perfect gift that He has sent from above. It is sin that destroys families and binds children. It is sin that tears at the very fabric of a nation and leaves it in shambles. It is sin that put Him on the cross.
How can we know Jesus, love Him, worship Him, and accept that sacrifice and still dance with sin? How can we? How can ANYONE who truly loves Jesus desire to also continue in sin? He DIED so that we wouldn’t have to. He DIED to give us His own righteousness. He DIED, not so we can sin and not be punished, but so we can say “NO” to sin…so that we can be gradually conformed to the likeness of the Son of God. This message has been hijacked by a world that has cheapened this sacrifice into “tolerance”. “If you loved me, you would quit making me uncomfortable with my sin.” Actually, it is because I love you, that I do. I know a better way…the only Way…to life.
Do I sin? YES. But oh, if I can only tell you how much I HATE it that I do. I want with all my heart to be perfect for the Spotless Lamb of God, but I find myself trapped in this human body, often forgetting, often selfish, often falling short…and often on my knees again caught up in grace like an avalanche. He is so merciful. So very merciful. And so very willing to extend that mercy to ALL who come to Him in repentance.
So the way I see it, the Church needs to take back the Gospel. It’s been hijacked, but this message belongs to us. It has been entrusted to us to share, but to also protect. This is our fault. Instead of guarding, we were busy trying to keep our church faces. We were busy trying to work our way to heaven. We were busy trying to “be seen of men”. And as a result, we are reaching 4% of our next generation. Here’s a few things that we need to return to…
- Be Authentic. “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” I Sam 16:7
- Hold Firm to the Message. “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, either by our message or by our letter.” 2 Thess 2:15
- Love One Another. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 (One another meaning “brothers and sisters in Christ” which is where we learn the love of God to be spread abroad to all people)
- Don’t Be a Hypocrite. “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.” Luke 11:42
- Lift Up Jesus. “As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.” John 12:32
- Don’t Be Deceived. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
- Read the WHOLE Book. “I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share of the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book.” Rev 22:18-19
- Obey. “Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14:23
The world has no Jesus to offer. As a matter of fact, the way of Jesus is in direct offense to the way of the world…they are complete opposites. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” So why would we develop our response to the world from anything other than Scripture. Sure, if the Church had been doing its job in the first place, I would not be writing this. If we were living and loving authentically…if we were carrying the Light into the world as we were commanded to do…if we were refusing to become a social club that meets on Sundays…if we were really following Jesus, the world would not even have an ear when it talks, writes, or debates Christianity. They would know us by our fruit.
Unfortunately, the Church has gotten rich, comfortable, and in need of nothing and in response, the world has hijacked the Message.
Let’s take it back.