Christianity today is a beautiful thing. The youth of today's culture are very attracted to it, which is obviously a plus. Churches and youth conferences have finally figured out a way to reach all the lost souls who have no intention of living a new lifestyle! For all those hard-to-reach individuals who are comfortable with their way of living, today's Christianity has found a way to reach them where they're at, and help them stay there! Nobody needs to change, anymore! With a beautifully customize-able religion available at any youth conference or new age congregation, Christianity is finally easily available to anyone and everyone! If you're embarrassed of your sin, no problem! Modern Christianity will help you see that it's just a part of your personality, and you can learn to love yourself the way you are! Got a habit that's hard to kick? No sweat. Just join a youth group near you, and learn how to hang out in a healthy environment and feel uplifted. Depressed? Anxious? Hey- it's never been easier. Just go to a Christian concert with lots of lights, fog, and loud drums. You will definitely FEEL the presence of God every time the drummer rolls those cymbals. The Holy Spirit resides in those beautiful keyboard vibes. If the music gives you goosebumps, it's a sign that God has supernaturally healed you of any disorders or health problems. Just go with it.
We've upgraded Christianity so much, we've finally achieved the religion that suits our wishes. It's everything we dreamed it would be: fast, friendly, accepting, tolerant, comforting, trendy, and socially acceptable. We've finally figured out that the doctrine of obedience and submission to Christ does not draw in the crowds quite like the doctrine of self-love, self-acceptance, and YOLO. Now that we have a religion that attracts thousands of youth, all we have to do is make sure they STAY. Of course, as the youth of today's culture are particularly sensitive and prone to taking offense, we cannot, by any means, tell them to stop sinning. They would well up with tears and run in the opposite directions. If we want to have a hope of reaching the young and impressionable individuals of today's western society, we need to make sure we show no condemnation, and turn a blind eye to their problems. If they feel judged, we've lost them.
So welcome to your new and improved, fully personalized and customize-able Christianity. No obedience, commitment, or change in behavior required. It has evolved from being a totally consuming way of life, to a luxurious and comfortable hobby that also acts as a ticket to get in on totally rad conferences and awesome youth group events.
Because we no longer adhere to a large portion of Jesus' commands, we do not need to love God. Freedom! Finally! No rules, no regulations, and no bossy God. All we need to do is love our bodies, our lives, and our friends. Jesus and God were okay... but following them comes with so many rules and includes giving up our own ways... which is not fun. In John 14:15, Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey my commands." There you have it. We don't have to love Jesus anymore. In John 14:14, Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." So... I guess we don't have to be friends of God any longer. We're past that. Welcome to the New Age.
But... okay, wait. Luke 11:28 says, "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Well, we've all heard the Word of God. We read our favourite verses over and over again to help people feel loved, secure, and give them a Spiritual high. But we are blessed when we obey it? Where's the fun in that? Listening to them read aloud gives such a warm and fuzzy good feeling, why should we risk losing the good feeling by actually obeying it? Let's forget about this verse. It probably doesn't apply anymore.
Oh. I guess there's also 1 Peter 1:14. "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." Huh. I thought we were supposed to accept ourselves the way we are. We are always told that we don't have to change for anybody. We're told to be true to ourselves. This is what pop culture Christianity told us- did pop culture Christianity read this verse?
Oh, great. Then there's Romans 2:6-10. "God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But to those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." WHAT? Come on, Jesus. Why aren't you conforming to 21st Century Christianity?
1 John 3:24 says, "Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us." Okay, no. I know the Spirit abides in us because we get goosebumps during Hillsong's choruses. I know the Holy Spirit abides in us because of the high we get when the lights go crazy and the crowds all raise their hands and cheer. But you're telling me that the Spirit abides in those who actually obey God's commandments? Shoot.
Luke 6:46 - "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord!' and not do what I tell you?" Um... because.... uh.....
John 13:17 - "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
James 2:17 - "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." Wow. Harsh.
I can't tell you how many times at youth events or ultramodern church services I have heard messages of tolerance and acceptance preached with missionary zeal. But I can probably count on one hand the messages I have heard about sin, obedience, and what it truly means to be a Christian. We have dumbed this religion down to the point where it is hardly more than the chance to listen to good music, live a healthier lifestyle, and feel accomplished. There's no struggle, there's no challenge, there's just a personal statement of how the forgiveness of Christ is so relieving, and the love of God helps us love ourselves. That is not Christianity. That's hardly religion. It's hardly anything.
I have been to worship services where the lead singer has told us, with no exaggeration, "If you feel shivers while you're singing, that's God. If you are getting goosebumps and feel the tears, it's the Holy Spirit filling your life. So don't shut down that feeling." No. God can certainly meet people in moments like that, but the slow chord progressions and hype that surround that type of service is not a secret recipe that will summon God's presence. Jesus is where His followers are. Jesus reveals himself to those who actually step out in faith, following his commands. He is found where His disciples are. Christianity is not a fandom. It's a Kingdom ruled by a King who loves His servants and uses them to expand His Kingdom.
Paul opened the letter of Romans with these words: "This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his good news."
I have had friends, acquaintances, and even strangers open up to me and share their problems. They often are in the middle of a crisis- and are having difficulties because of the choices they have made. And they are broken. And they aren't looking for affirmation of their ways. They aren't looking for a "Well, at least God loves you," or a "You're doing great- just don't let anybody bring you down." No, they're looking for answers. And while we always say that Jesus is the answer, the more correct answer is the submission to Jesus.
We often try to make it comfy for the prisoners behind bars. We can give them pillows and blankets, we can decorate their cell, and we can provide company. But until we actually give them the KEY, they are still not free. And once they are shown the key, it is up to them to leave the comfort of their jail cell behind, and join the world as a slave of Christ.
This is the message that we should be preaching. In Christ, there is freedom. Without Christ, there is sin and death. Let's stop 'accepting' sin. Let's stop encouraging the lost in the path they're taking. They may be living a comfortable life on earth with a cross necklace and tickets to a Bethel Music concert, but the comfort only lasts for this life. Anybody can walk the pathway to Hell thinking to themselves, "I am perfect the way I am. I am loved. I don't need to change. I don't need to do anything differently. My flaws make me beautiful. I'm fine the way I am." It takes a true Christian to make the 180 degree turn, and walk the path toward Heaven saying, "I am a sinner. I need Christ. I will follow His commands. I love Him, because He first loved me."
Matthew 7:21 ~ "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."
This is the message that needs to be preached. This is the message that is not being preached to the youth of this nation. This coming year, let's pray that God will show us how to reroute Christianity back onto its intended path.
Let's make Christianity-2016 A.D. just like Christianity-1 A.D. Christ hasn't changed, and neither should His followers.