Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Great Disconnect

In the Western church, more noticeably in the church in the US, we are living in a time of disconnection.  A time in which there is a disconnection in so many who claim to be a Christian, and that disconnection is between what they claim to be and how they are actually living; and what is even worse, is that others who claim to be Christian see no problem with the disconnection, and in fact see no disconnection at all.

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun, as Solomon would say, as we see this same issue talked about by Paul as he says in Titus 1:16, They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."  James also alludes to this problem in James 1:22 as he says, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."  So yes, this problem is not new, it acutally existed in Israel before the New Testament times, but it seems to me that this disconnection in the Western church (especially in our country) has gone from epidemic proportions, to pandemic.  This disconnection is most visibly demonstrated in the area of sexual promiscuity, sensuality, and immorality.

Let me give you three examples that have come to my attention over the last few weeks.

#1. The vote, this week, by the Twin Cities presbytery of the PCUSA to okay the ordination of clergy without regard to sexual orientation.  This was the vote that gave the majority vote in favor of this change to their constitution.

#2. While having lunch with a friend of mine last week he told me of a youth minister in Houston who had moved in with his girlfriend.  His comment to me was that they should know better, and, yes, they should; but what bothered me was that the youth minster and his girlfriend obviously did not see anything wrong with co-habitating outside of marriage.

#3. The latest Youtube buzz about Carrie Underwood singing "How Great Thou Art."  Only a few weeks ago, at the ACM awards, she was provacatively dressed and gyrating around while singing with Steven Tyler.  It was bad enough that I turned off the television.  Obviously she doesn't see a problem with how she was performing at the ACM's or she wouldn't do it.  But does that performance, that activity, square with the profession of being a Christian?  Would she dress and perform like that at church?

Where is the disconnect here?  It is between their profession to be Christians, and their actions.  It is the difference between what the Scripture says and how they live their lives, which is also shown in the choices they make. Let's look at some Scripture that addresses all three of the examples I have listed above.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk
(live your life, or behave) no longer as the Gentiles walk,
in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding,
excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that
is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they,
having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality
for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard
Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,
that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside
the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the
lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been
created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Ephesians 4:17-24

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the
kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators,
nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
nor thieves, nor the covetous, not drunkards, nor revilers,
nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were
some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified,
but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and in the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9-11

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness;
and sin is lawlessness.  You know that He appeared in
order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
No one who abides in Him sins (practices, habitually,
lives a lifestyle of sinfulness); no one who sins has
seen Him or knows Him.  Little children, make sure no
one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness
is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices
sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. 
The Son of God has appeared for this purpose, to destroy
the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices
sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin
(practice, habitually, live as a lifestyle), because he is
born of God.  By this the children of the devil are obvious:
anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God,
nor the one who does not love his brother.
I John 3:4-10
Italics mine for emphasis or explanation

Listen, the Bible is full of verses that speak to this from many different angles, and through many different scenarios.  What is the issue here?  What is the disconnect?  You cannot live the same lifestyle as the world, and be a Christian.  There is no such thing as a carnal Christian, or a nominal Christian (despite the continued misinterpretation of I Corinthians 3:3).  You are on one side of the fence or the other.  You cannot serve two masters.  There must be a consistency between your talk and your walk.  You must prove to possess what it is you profess, unless of course you fail the test. 

Another issue with the types of examples mentioned above, is that in many cases they have been told it is okay to live in this way, that as long as you have made some kind of profession you are covered...like some kind of holy fire insurance...and, if you don't accept these kind of lifestyles in those who profess to be Christians, you are being judgmental.

Scripture is the sole and final judge in these matters; and we must hold up the Scriptures as the standard for behavior for those who profess to be Christians.  We must not shrink back from declaring the whole counsel of God standing on the authority of Scripture alone.  To be able to do this we must know and have confidence in the Word of God.  In bringing this topic up with those who claim to be Christian it has become painfully obvious that their knowledge of Scripture is woefully anemic.  If we don't know the Scripture, we cannot think Biblically, and therefore cannot apply Scripture where needed.  And, if we do not know the Scriptures it is hard, nay impossible, to speak with any degree of authority on these matters.

The only way to combat this disconnect is for the Scriptures to faithfully, fully, and comprehensibly be taught and preached in our churches.  Yes, doing this might, in fact will, decrease our numbers; but what remains will be purer and then perhaps the church will gain the relevancy in the culture that is truly transforming.

No comments: