I’m an ultra careful person when it comes to things of the Lord. The enemy is a master at taking tidbits of truth and bending them ever so slightly to sound right so that we will easily be deceived.
I know that there is a huge movement with a thousand different faces that says we need to present the Gospel in a way that is relevant to this generation. We need to embrace those that balk at the stiff traditions of past generations and are finding Jesus in new ways. We need to change.
I disagree. This is one of those times that I believe the enemy is taking something that sounds good and makes our hearts think, “That sounds ok” but it is actually poison among believers of The Way. Not that we don’t need to be loving and accepting and feed the poor. Absolutely we do. But I disagree that Jesus needs to be presented in a way that’s relevant today. In this generation. In a new way.
Because Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
I think the Bible and studying it in depth as the infallible Word of God is super exciting. Without frills. Without the need to spice it up or dumb it down. It’s incredible to see how a book that was written by at least 39 authors over a span of fifteen hundred years has the same theme, the same message, the same God and Savior on every page. Because it is His Word. His message. His heart in every word.
From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is the true account of the Creation of man and the universe by a loving, Creative, Just God. The fall of man shattered a perfect world and God’s Rescue Plan to bring His people back to Himself is outlined out for us in detail.
Yes, it can be confusing at times because it’s not a Reader’s Digest meant to entertain us when we have a minute. It’s life and breath and light to those that will believe and accept it. And that is not something to be gulped down quick-like in one day. It takes a lifetime to digest.
I’m concerned for our Nation–nay, our world. Not because I don’t trust in the Lord or because I am afraid of what’s coming. I’m afraid for those that will be prevented from knowing the entire truth about the Lord.
For those that will only hear about how much He demands righteousness without being shown His Grace and Mercy. (How can you accept something you’re never offered?)
For those that will only hear about His love and are never shown how we all fall short of His righteousness. (How can you accept forgiveness when you don’t realize you need it?)
I see churches being ripped apart over these two camps.
It’s hard to find the place in the middle where Jesus actually walked.
I hear this side yell, “God demands righteousness!” ignoring that He alone is righteous and can provide the means to be holy as He is holy. And that it’s a process.
The other side shouts back, “Remember, Jesus let the harlot go and didn’t stone her when He alone could have!” Yes. Praise God for this example of mercy. But He also told her to “Go and sin no more.”
He knows we are a helpless mess of sinners, all of us. No matter our social status. No matter the color of our skin, our ethnicity. No matter how we were raised. No matter if we raise our hands to worship in church or not. No matter if we attend church or not.
I can easily be pulled into either camp if I’m not careful because, while I believe the above statement, there are things that I firmly believe become black and white. While Jesus reaches out to sinners in bars, for example, He doesn’t leave them sinners in bars.
He ate with thieves and prostitutes but they didn’t remain thieves and prostitutes.
In His cleansing way, He made them holy saints that chose His way from the minute they surrendered to Him.
There is a movement, a great stirring in the church of followers of Christ to change. To be relevant. To welcome with open arms those that have otherwise been rejected by the “religious” people in their communities. Amen, we need to have open arms. But open honest arms. And not by becoming like those that we are called to share the gospel with. From where I stand, the church is starting to look just like the world around it, all in the name of “being relevant and new”.
I take issue with divisive people who call attention to themselves by saying, “We started a new church over here because WE intend to make everyone feel good about themselves no matter what.” Being loving to a hurting world is a wonderful thing, but why do we have to separate from others of our same belief to do that? Why start a new church? Why point fingers at your fellow brothers and sisters who aren’t as loud as you about how they are following their Savior? Maybe they are quietly witnessing to a neighbor in loving actions day after day instead of marching in a parade alongside them.
On the other side of the coin, I take issue with institutions that refuse to let people know the Lord on a personal level. We attended a church once that never practiced communion. After a year, I finally asked the pastor why they never did communion. His answer? “Well, our believers are so new that they won’t understand.” Ok. So show them the first communion that Jesus performed and teach them why He told us to do such in remembrance of Him. Don’t stand in their way of doing it at all.
The problems among believers and churches and those caught in between comes from not consistently taking the Bible as a whole and letting everyone see what’s written in it.
The Fall of Man is important to know. We all fall.
The redemption of Man by the blood of Christ is important. We all need it.
The things that God does not condone are important to know. We all struggle with our own sin.
We all need to trust the Lord when He says, “I love you. Now stop sinning and follow me.” And then, if we’ve surrendered out life to Him, we all need to stop the sin, no matter how hard it is. Not matter if the world disagrees. No matter. We need to stop the sin. And uplift one another in our separate areas of sin-shedding.
With the world changing around us and age-old God defined morals being re-written, let’s not point fingers. Let’s not change to be more attractive to a world that is less and less interested in saying no to what they want and yes to what the Lord requires.
Let’s not look down our noses at those that are younger in the faith and as such are still learning to listen to the Holy Spirit above their old way of thinking.
Let’s not separate and fight and point fingers. Let’s join together as followers of the same God. Let’s stand firm in the relevance of His Word for every generation.
Let’s not focus on how we can change things to make everyone comfortable.
Let’s not refuse to be patient with those still maturing in their faith as we all are.
Let’s read His word for ourselves. Devour it. Digest it. Chew on it. Pay attention when there are red flags, when something doesn’t sound quite in line with His word. Trust that the same Spirit in you is in your brothers and sisters in Christ and His Word never changes.
Let’s stand firm in His love and righteousness together.
B.D. Riehl is the author of The Earth is Full and The Heavens Are Telling, both available here.