This last Sunday I was reading a letter by Pastor Gary Wilkerson, from the well-known World Challenge Ministries, and I could finally put words to our –my husband’s and mine– struggle with Christian churches in our local community. This pastor said,
“America is, in many places, suffering a famine of the Word of God. My heart breaks over the church’s tolerance of easy believism and watered-down pabulum, and the trivializing of the weighty matters of a holy and glorious God.”
He goes on to explain that a biblically saturated word from heaven, one that does not tickle ears or entertains its audience is by today’s standards, a ‘hard’ gospel, to which he says,
“I believe a hard gospel is one that leaves people in their sin and tolerates milk-drenched, undernourished, immature Christians – Christians who know little joy because they know little of gospel truth. A hard word is one that leaves hardened hearts in the pew.”
WOW. Being a foreigner, I can attest to all that is said above – here in America (ehem… the United States, mind you), there is indeed a gospel like that being preached. However, I feel this is something that is happening worldwide too. I do wonder, when I see these huge churches, if their congregations take the time on a Sunday, to question whether that morning the preaching was indeed biblical. Statistics say that the average Christian in the world is not in the USA anymore but in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning Christianity is no longer mainstream – meaning, there are people calling themselves Christian but their practice is far from the teachings of the Bible. That is a strong accusation, don’t you think?
Well, what is going on? For starters, let’s review the current characteristics of the Christian church in the USA that pastor Wilkerson points out so well:
1. Tolerance of easy believism = Any Christian that believes that because they prayed the sinner’s prayer at some point in their life they are automatically a child of God, they are wrong. We need to understand that what makes us a child of God is our daily walk with Christ, ‘taking up His yoke’ and living a sanctified a life – separated for God. Christ’ yoke is the denial of me, it is recognizing that spiritually I am in constant battle against the world, the devil and my own flesh – and fighting against them! Don’t be afraid to be harsh on yourself, if necessary, question your motives, ask God to examine your heart and BE REAL. Confess your sins to God, He has promised to forgive you. Only then, you can start to WALK THE TALK.
2. Tolerance of watered-down pabulum = Pabulum is “something (as writing or speech) that is insipid, simplistic, or bland”. This means that even though the Bible verses that you hear on Sunday morning are truth from God, their teaching has been so simplified and sugar-coated that is no longer the medicine that your soul needs for restoration, but just like aesthetic surgery for a problem of the mind… it doesn’t work. It might serve you well for a while but it will not strengthen you for your walk with Christ. A ‘Christian’ that doesn’t want to be bothered with hard biblical truths, with complex teachings from God, that feels complacent in their ‘Christianity’ is indeed used to this kind of watered-down teaching.
3. Churches trivialize the weighty matters of a holy and glorious God = I was appalled when I learned that some worship services look more like a hype concert or that instead of preaching the Bible some churches offer skits, conversations in the altar. I am still taken aback by the fact that many people dress up for a party but go to church as if they are attending a regular picnic. Even more, preaching is no longer a holy task carried out with reverence but instead a casual talk filled with pop psychology that will keep the audiences ‘feeling good’, entertained, content. The church is no longer a place of repentance, contrition, but a social club where people attend to receive (“What a great children’s ministry!” “What great music!”) than to give honor to God (“How the Lord convicted me today through his word!”).
4. The gospel preached leaves people in their sin = As said above, preachers are too scared to loose attendance so they are either just puppets in the hand of the audiences or servants of their own egos (the most degrees or year of experience you have, the better pastor you will be, however false that is), not servants of God Almighty anymore. Instead of preaching the truth ‘that will set you free’, Pastors choose to adjust their teaching to what feels comfortable in their audiences’ ears… So people sit comfortably in their sin, totally in denial of the fact that taking communion in that state means ‘piling condemnation over them’! Let us not forget that our walk with Christ is along a ‘narrow’, difficult, path, not a wide, easy, path.
5. Churches tolerate milk-drenched, undernourished, immature Christians = I’ve met people attending church for years who don’t have a testimony of salvation – that one experience with God in which His power transforms you to follow Him… These Christians will face struggles and trials (remember these are part of our walk with Christ) and will end up quitting their faith or seeking other ‘better’, easier ways. They will suffer for following Christ and will give Him up because they did not build their house in the rock that is Christ but over sand – they were not nourished with the Truth of the Gospel and comforted by the Holy Spirit of God but lived on a false gospel that taught them that God was like a genie in a lamp, that Christianity was there to make them happy, have a financial secure life, etc. They were not taught that we are supposed to ‘build treasure in heaven’ instead of on this earth.
6. All this result in Christians who know little joy because they know little of gospel truth = Today many Christians don’t shine a light in the darkened world, but instead have the same look of frustration, depression, hopelessness just like everyone else around them. Their purpose of being ‘salt into the world’ (salt preserves from putrefaction) is no longer active and therefore these Christians, just as salt, will be thrown away into the fire, meaning their eternal damnation is certain.
7. Finally, and the worst of all, is that the current gospel leaves hardened hearts in the pew = After hearing the Gospel for so many years without taking action -actually believing- many people either become atheists or become so-called Christians with a bad attitude. Have you seen ‘Christians’ who rave against those who sin? Have you seen ‘Christians’ wishing to kill their enemy instead of showing the other cheek or blessing those who curse them? I have. There is not compassion in their eyes. Christ is not living in their hearts. They just take the banner of ‘Christianity’ as a political, cultural, social platform to share their wickedness with the world and by doing so, offending the name of God. They never took that step in faith to surrender completely to God when He was calling them. Instead, they took the time to mull over their own doubts and frustration. Being transformed by the power of God, by the Holy Spirit of God, is not a fairy tale. We have the chance today of start praying about this in our lives.
Let us be aware – Our Lord is not be fooled. Let us forever keep His words in Matthew 7:21-27 in our hearts and minds and teach them to others while we can,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
For His Glory!