Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 'Popular' Church

Today I want to talk about the American church conforming to the world.  We all know of mega churches and while some mega churches are solid, I would contend that for the most part they are not.  So much of the church is trying to make themselves out to be like the world that sometimes I have a hard telling a church from a social club or a Christian event from a secular one.  I believe that a large part of the American church is just like the world with a Christian T-shirt.  We try so much to be like the world, but God tells us otherwise.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV
We are not to make ourselves like the world at all.  We are supposed to be different, we are supposed to be transformed.  We should reflect the light of Jesus to the world and not be reflections of the world.  If God has changed us from what we once were, why do we will want to pretend otherwise? 

One thing we do is that we try to Christianize everything.  We incorporate New Age and other wicked religions into our faith.  For example, many Christians practice Yoga.  Yoga is a form of worship to a false god and has no place in the life of a Christian.  You might as well incorporate saying the Lord's Prayer while facing Mecca into your faith. We have Christian music designed to sound just like popular wordly bands, we wear the same immodest clothing, we have entertaining worship sounding and feeling just like rock concerts, etc.  Where is the transforming of your mind? Where is the new man God created in you? Why do you wear your prison clothes when God has set you free?

I am not saying its wrong if your church is modern in appearance or that you use technology to help deliver the message.  From printing presses to microphones to Blogger, we use all sorts of technology in order to get out the message. What I talking about is the church that changes the message or waters it down so much that it loses any of its power.  I am talking about the church afraid of being offensive and scared of not being liked.  I am talking about those who are afraid to scare people away by talking about sin.  I am talking about those churches that even ignore what the Bible calls sin in order to be more accepted by the world.  The thing that all those churches have in common is that they are more interested in pleasing man then they are God.  They feel quantity of congregants is more important then quality of message.  They do not preach the same gospel that the Apostles taught and the Bible is clear on the repercussions of that.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:6-12
Those verses say it all.  That is the condition of a large and tragic part of those who call themselves Christians in America.  They have forsaken the true Gospel of Christ for doctrines that tickle their ears preached by pastors who have forsaken the true Gospel for a gospel of church growth and popularity.  That should not be and those of us who have not accepted the watered down gospel of likability need to be all the more diligent in calling out our brothers and sisters who have.

And sure, a growing church is in God's will as God desires all to be saved, the example of watering down the message is not God's example of how to do it.  Here is God's church growth program:
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. Acts 2:38-31 NKJV
Peter preached the Gospel and people were saved.  He did not water down the message, he did not embrace the sinful culture, he called people out of that culture and into fellowship with Jesus.  He did not tickle the ears but pierced the heart. 

So while you, popularity preacher, are tickling the ears of your congregation with the glorious promises of God, why not add this one:
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me." John 15:18-21 NKJV
If the world loves you it is because it sees you as part of the world.  If you model your church and your ministry after Jesus, the world will hate you and persecute you.  In other words, if the world loves you it means you are probably doing something wrong.  We are to please God over man and through God we will reach man to call him out of his fallen dead state and into the salvation of the Lord.

To peach the same Gospel that the Apostles taught, we much be true to His word.  Its only His word that will reach people.  Its only His word that will change lives. 
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NKJV
And, finally, I have one more example from the Bible:
"And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" Matthew 10:14-15 NKJV
I think that verse is key.  When you preach the Gospel and it is not accepted, God does not tell us to make the message more culturally relevant, He does not tell you to find newer and more clever ways to feed them a watered down Gospel, He does not tell you to poll them to ask them what they would like to see in a church, He does not tell you to then go back to trick them into coming to a church with clever worldly programs with a Christian name, and he does not tell you try and be less offensive.  He tells you to walk away. If you truly preached the Gospel with your words and with your lives and they continue to reject you all you can do is pray for them.  You can't talk someone into Jesus, its the Holy Spirit that will convict.  Its God that makes the seeds you planted grow. 

No matter how the world may reject us, no matter how lonely this narrow path we are on may seem at times, no matter how hard it seems to be to get people to understand the Hope that is inside you, you are called to be true to the true Gospel and the Word of God.  Nothing you can do is more powerful than that.   Jesus did promise us persecution for his Name's sake, but he also gave us a promise of hope.  He gave us a promise of victory in Him.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

3 comments:

  1. I love "why do you wear your prison clothes when God has set you free?" and "he did tickle the ears but pierced the heart". Let's be fresh, free and on fire!

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  2. Oh good - it works!

    This was a good post about mega churches. There are some new (and old) churches who are enticing people to come through their doors for seemingly unbiblical reasons & preaching. Also, it's a shame if some see it as a popularity contest as opposed to winning people to Christ.

    As for yoga, it is an interesting topic. Your post led me to research it a bit more and I see that over 1/3 of people who practice yoga do it for spiritual reasons as opposed to doing it for exercise. People truly believe it takes you to a "spiritual" level in your "inner journey."

    Some folks even begin yoga for exercise, but wind up following Hinduism as a result. I was reading a bunch of comments at various yoga websites and found what people believe to be frightening. Yes, there is definitely a spiritual side to yoga, but not one I want to journey to.

    Having said all that - I have 2 forms of yoga videos here at our house. They are both simple stretching and strength training videos without the spiritual content that the majority of videos (I'm guessing) have. Zero. I purposely bought them that way. In fact, the guy in the video points out often what a good tool yoga is to improve physical strength. The only bad thing I can say about the videos is that it hurts my body to stretch so much!

    However, after looking into it, I wish there was a type of "yoga" that was renamed something like StretchMania or something more creative than that! Because the videos I have are a great workout and a useful switch from my cardiovascular routine.

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