Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Audacity of American Christianity...

I have been floored (another word for convicted) by the state of Christianity in America. This is not something recent, I have felt this way for quite some time. No, I don't feel this way because of some report I read chronicling the decline of the church. I also do not feel this way because I have read a book that has told me what I "ought" to think. I feel as I do because of what I have observed with my eyes and because I seek to correctly discern the times in which I live. I feel this way also because I have studied the Gospel of Jesus Christ and do not see an overwhelming resemblance between American Christianity and the scriptural model provided. With that understanding, I am disturbed by the audacity of American Christianity for several reasons. First, I often wonder why the majority of Christians' walk does not seem to match their talk. They will utter words that sound like they are right on target with the Gospel, living for Jesus, but their walk will be just the opposite. This is concerning on many different levels. It causes alarms to go off in this pastor's heart regarding those who profess a salvation in Christ but produce no resulting change in lifestyle. It is totally incomprehensible to me that when the God of all creation brings salvation into a life that the person will not be radically changed. If a gospel has so little power that a sinner is not changed by it so that they continually grow in their reflection of Christ, it must not be the Gospel that is taught in Scripture. So, first, I am alarmed because I see so little life-change transpiring in American Christianity.

Second, I am concerned because my eyes have been opened to a growing level of self-indulgent Christianity in America. The main goal in coming to worship is not about glorifying God, but rather it seems to be about getting temporal needs met. We do not seek Him out of a poverty of self; we seek Him out of an overflowing wealth of self-sufficiency. There is so little dependency upon God that one must truly ask if we really even need “another god" in our lives at all. His is the "bit" part in the movie of our lives where we have cast ourselves as the star. So, for this reason and others, lost America is asking "who needs God, especially your God?" Why would they need conversion when their life and those who profess Christ look so similar? It is incongruent that God desires dependency and reliance upon Him from His children and yet continue to bless lives overflowing with self-indulgence.

Third, I fear the reproach that comes with ignoring the plight of the poor who live around us. I have been convicted lately that we in America have so very much and yet we give so very little. Yes, it is true that 20% or less of church members give 80% or more of the money needed to fund the work of the Lord in the local church. We have so much and yet we spend the money only on that which supports our ostentatious lifestyles. While preaching this past Sunday I stated that "most people in this world could live a better life if they just lived off of the garbage we throw away in the dumpster weekly." I am convicted by my own statement; I am also alarmed that most were not.

What is going to happen to the Church in America? Only God ultimately knows, but I have an idea what will happen if revival tarries. If there is not a turning back to the Lord in the form of a great spiritual awakening we can expect God's absolute removal of His hand of blessing on our nation (some would say this has already happened). We can expect our self-sufficiency tried, tested and ultimately proven a failure. We can expect our self-indulgence to cease because there will be a reversal of fortune like never before in the world. We can expect to join the ranks of those we barely tolerate who have so little and are among the poor in America. We are at a crossroads. We are at a turning point. We are at a fork in the road and God is watching to see the path we will take. The audacity of American Christianity... where will it end?