Thursday, September 13, 2012

When the Gospel is Banned from the Church

There are times you want to say things about things that have made an impression on you or affected you or stirred you up. This is one of those times, but it is also one of those times that I know that I won't be able to convey the entirety of what I was thinking and feeling, maybe because I had several thoughts and feelings about what happened.  In the big scheme of things, well, even in the little scheme of things, it probably isn't that big.  But, to me, it is a sign of where we are in our life in the church here in the U S; and it bothered me,
it made me a little sick at my stomach, it caused me to have an anti-smalzy reaction, made my hypocrite alarm go off, and left me with sense of disgust. And, I'll admit, it played right into my prejudice towards the types of churches I mentioned in this recent post http://morris-pressingon.blogspot.com/2012/08/another-gospel.html

This was brought about when I was recently standing in line at Starbucks.  Our Starbucks is the number two grossing Starbucks in the state of Texas, so you usually have a bit of a wait to make your order.  So as I was waiting in line, a thirty-something year old man came in and queued up behind me.  As we were waiting he made a phone call, and being as close as we were, I could not help but hear some of the conversation.  His tone was fairly crass for most of the conversation, and he used a couple of inappropriate terms that were in step with the tone of the conversation.  I chalked it up to just another person in the world doing what people in the world do.  Well, after I received my order I was talking to a friend of mine, and up walks this same man who was having the conversation.  My friend introduced us, and lo and behold, this man was on staff at one of the local churches that were referenced above.  In fact, he was the staff person in charge of the elementary school age children.  After my friend told him that I was a pastor the tone of his voice changed and he was so sugary that my anti-smalzy alarm went off; I mean it was to the point of being insincere.  You would not have been able to reconcile the person in line behind me with the person I was introduced to.

I wondered if there was any conviction on his part about having two personas, or if he even sees the problem with having two different personas, or if he even is aware that he has two personas.  One, which is obviously the way he normally is, and the other, which is his church staff persona.  Two masks representing two different people.  But, I don't think that those who hold to a Moralistic Therapeutic Deism philosophy (see post referenced above) see any problem with hypocrisy such as this.  They don't make the connection between their profession and their life, in fact they don't see that there should be a connection to what you profess and how you live.  And just to add to this, another man told me of a conversation he recently had with a member of one of the churches I alluded to in the post above.  They were telling him about how they would follow their pastor no matter where he went, and then in the same conversation talked about getting drunk the last weekend and having a hang-over the next day.  Again, seeing no problem with talking about being a church member and drinking so much you feel bad the next day, all in the same conversation.

This bothers me for these people, and reminds me of Titus 1:15-16.  I am concerned for their spiritual state, that they can go to church, or be a staff member at a church, and not see the disconnect between what they say they are and how they live.  I am concerned not only for them, but for others in those churches, and also for the churches themselves.  But you see, when you are preaching messages designed to make people feel better about themselves, or improve their worldly lives, or preaching sermons designed to attract the worldly,  this is a logical result.  And I wish these were isolated incidents, but they are not.

You might say, Morris, we have always had hypocrites in the church and always will.  And I would agree with you, but at the same time, I don't think this type of compartmentalization of the Christian life, this type of disconnect between profession and lifestyle has ever been this rampant and this rife in our churches, nor has it ever been as accepted as normal to the point that most have become oblivious to it, as it is now.

If you never preach and teach on sin, never talk about man's sinfulness then there is never a need for a Savior.  If people do not see their sinfulness, then they won't see the disconnect between their profession and their lifestyle, much less see their need for a Savior.  The true Gospel tells man the truth about his sin, his  separation from God and his alienation from God on account of his sin.  The true Gospel tells man of God's remedy in Christ for his sin and the reconciliation with God that is provided through Christ.  The true Gospel tells man the truth about himself, not so he will feel good about himself, but so he will place his faith in what God has done for him in Christ.  And, actually, nothing should make you feel better than to know the mercy, grace, love, and compassion of God that He bestows upon you in salvation.

Unfortunately, this Gospel, the true Gospel, has been banned from so many churches and replaced with the false gospel of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, the false gospel of self.  Friends, let us make sure the true Gospel is preached in our churches.  Hold fast to the faithful word, do not be ashamed of the Gospel, as it is God's power to save, to heal, to restore, to reconcile, to make holy.  If there will be hypocrites in our churches, let it not be because we have banned the true Gospel.


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