I had an “Aha!” moment just now.
No, not that kind of “Aha!” moment. You know, like a “Eureka!” moment. Or an “Of Course!” moment.
Let me explain. A few minutes ago, I was walking past a house on my street and heard some sort of “Hillsongy” P&W music coming from the window. I didn’t know the song, but it was one of those obviously Christian songs – and as notoriously bad Christian music can be, I don’t mean “obviously” as a critique. In fact, it made me nostalgic for a few years back when I listened to a lot of that sort of music, and it also reminded me of some pretty significant things that happened to me at that time, in my Christian walk.
Then, the “Aha!”, “Eureka!”, “Of course!” moment hit… one of the reasons why I (and probably so many other people) get so angry and sad about the message that the hyperconservatives are trying to get out, at least in my community in NC/VA.
According to their message, the Jesus that died on the cross for me and for so many others was insufficient. His death was insufficient. His defeat of hell and the grave was insufficient. The blood that he gave as an atoning sacrifice for our sins was insufficient.
According to their message, the Jesus that walked with me and my family through personal tragedy (the death of my father and the burning of my church not long after) was false. The comfort we felt from the Holy Spirit as we grieved was false comfort. The unity that we experienced with our fellow church members was a farce.
According to their message, the Jesus that has inspired men and women through the centuries to give up everything they have to work with people who have nothing was anti-Christ. Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot and Roger Youderian? All Lost. Lottie Moon? Lost. William Carey? Lost. The people talked about at the Voice of the Martyrs? Lost. All the faithful followers of Jesus through the ages who have believed differently than they do? Lost.
Why? How could this be? It is because they all served an insufficient Jesus.
The Promised Land
And for what? What is this wonderful alternative that they have set up? This Newly Restored Promised Land to which they are attempting to lead us? Certainly it will inspire a new generation of people who want to go to the four corners of the earth to share the Good News of God’s grace! Well, let’s look and see.
“If you don’t take the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week you are lost!”
“If you play a guitar in a church service, you are lost!”
“If you aren’t baptized exactly the way I say you should be according to my interpretation of Scripture, you are lost!”
“If you don’t follow the rules I have set up from my “study” of Scripture, you are lost!”
“If you aren’t in a church that I approve of, you are lost!”
And, finally, said to the “unbeliever”: “we are here to defeat destroy you and uplift truth”!
It Is For Freedom You Have Been Set Free
When I let myself think about the bondage that they are setting up for people through their deft mishandling of the Word of God, it makes me really, really, sad. It makes me sad for the people who will fall for their mishandling. It makes me sad for the people who halfway listen to them and, hearing them quoting Scripture, think that they are somehow authoritative. It makes me sad because it is an attempt to turn the Gospel into something that it is not – a prison, when Christ came to set the prisoner free (Luke 4:18); to give us freedom (John 8:32).
(image from here)
The Word as Blunt Weapon
“But they make people go back to the Bible!” some would say. Yes, that is true, but do they make people go back and sit at the feet of the Master to grow closer to Him, or do they make people go back so that they can also learn to prooftext the Word and fight with it like some sort of blunt weapon?
(Image from here.)
An Answering Voice
And I was suddenly glad that I had started this blog, so that there would be an answering voice out there. JR likes to ridicule us, that we may only have five (or so) people commenting here each day, but my blog status report tells me that we have hundreds of people visiting and reading each day.
It’s my prayer that some of them might be people who are looking for a way out of the bondage of this way of thinking, and that somehow we might help them to see that Christ exists outside of their assembly, regardless of what they might hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning.
And to any of those folks who might have stopped in here today, I share Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3:
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
(image from here)