Thursday, December 28, 2006

Losing our Uniqueness

I enjoyed Christmas this year. One of my favorite things about Christmas is that it is the one day of the year where everything is closed. It's fantastic. Even Wal-Mart was closed! There is and should be something unique about Christmas. It is the celebration of God's gift to mankind and His dwelling among us in human flesh. Culture to some extent gets the uniqueness of Christmas, at least the being off from work part. No other holiday can say that. However, all the pundits have been pontificating for the last week or so, saying "What is Christmas, really?" Well last year you may recall a good many churches stated that Christmas was nothing more than spending time with family, so they canceled services. What a wonderful message, God came into the world so we could spend time with family, be off from work, and worship and imaginary fat man who lives in most God forsaken part of the earth. Merry Christmas! Just curious, is that part of Jesus' discussion to Nicodemus? If we do not teach the radical difference between our belief in the one true God and salvation through Christ, as opposed to secularism, Islam, Buddhism, and everything else, then we will see Christmas and the Church continue to be marginalized as "just another religion,"and Christmas as "just another holiday." Christmas is the beginning of our uniqueness and Easter is the consummation of it. We must emphasize sin, salvation through grace alone, and the need for Christ. No other belief system preaches the message of the pure Gospel. So, if the church does not preach and live the Gospel, how will the dying world know Jesus. Is this not what Paul says in Romans 10? So, be bold for the Gospel. Do not be scared to discuss sin. If people do not like it, that's good, they shouldn't, I don't like sin either and neither does God, so much so that He sent His only Son into the world as the only way to redeem us from it. That is Christmas, redeem it from the rest before it becomes just another "Happy Holiday"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Where is the love pt. 2

So, what then is the church supposed to do? First, we must begin preaching the cross, sin and redemption again. If all Jesus has to offer people is salvation from kids soccer games, wives that nag, 42" plasma TVs instead of 50" LCDs, and relief from credit card payments, then He does not offer much. What if instead we supposed that Christ saved us from ETERNAL torment. You know the kind that NEVER ends. What if we explained that sin is so evil so vile so putrid so repugnant that, that to get rid of it required nothing less than the crushing of the very Son of God Himself. Nothing short of this would even make a faint scratch. Anything less than Christ would have been like attempting to put out a forest fire by continually spitting on it. This is the chasm that had to be breached. We cannot not preach the lie that everyone is basically OK, and Christ just gives us a little push in the right direction (Also do not forget this very teaching was declared heretical by numerous synods in the 400s) We must preach the radical difference between God and man, sin and sinlessness, true good and human perceived good. Faith, Hope, and Love are not satisfied or based on good pay, nice home and a sweet ride. These are produced from the radical knowledge of knowing from what we are redeemed. Before we are regenerated we are not neutral to God. We would nail Him to the cross again and again if we could. God saves the unregenerate despite this disposition. This is merely the beginning of placing the Gospel back in the church. Funny how Barbra Walters knew this when interviewing Joel Osteen, but he did not.

Friday, December 15, 2006

What happened to REAL love in the Church??

The most frequently discussed topic on church signs as I drive by them seems to be acceptance or love. Sermons deal with how to accept people as they are, do not judge one another. Do not discuss sin for it is not loving. Do not discuss any controversial or taboo topics, for they may offend. Is this the new definition of love. We must be careful in our cultural context to define the terms we use. Is love allowing people to be anything and everything they want to be, thus being accepting of them so they feel "love" towards you? Well obviously even people in this belief system would put limits upon the anything and everything. For example, they would not say its loving to let someone be a murderer, or rapist and tell them that's OK its just the way you are. However, as grave as that example is, I believe the Church is performing a far greater disservice to believers and non-believers alike. In our quest for big numbers, big buildings, and happy sermon topics, we have lost real love. If your children said "If you love me you will let me play in the street" how would you respond? Would you say "Your right honey, play in the street," and when they are hit by a car would you exclaim "I do not understand why this happened." In contrast, would you say "No, you cannot play in the street BECAUSE I love you."
I contend that as crazy as the first answer seems, this is exactly what we seem to be doing. We do not preach redemption... For no one has really done anything wrong. We do not preach the cross... because it is too disturbing, and honestly how is that going to get the people in the pews a promotion or how will the church raise the money for the new building if they preach about the condition of man and his dire need for a savior. Perhaps even scarier, Will preaching about these topics cause some people to leave my church? Now I am not saying this pseudo-love is being preached and taught universally, but it is far too prevalent. How do we solve this problem? Can the church attract people without showing movies, serving coffee in corporate worship, and just doing its best to entertain people? Is Jesus really attractive when the whole counsel of Scripture is used to describe Him and His teachings? I hope to answer these questions in my next blog... so stay tuned