I was asked the other day, “in your lifetime as a Christian, has the Message changed?” I have been a Christian 50 years, and I have seen many trends come and go. So, my answer to that question was yes. Here is my summary:
1. Your destiny is enrichment, prosperity, and the emphasis has been on self-help measures based upon the first two. Here is an example of an email message I got today:
The Father says, "My banner over you is love! I'm so full of love for you that I want to shout it out to the world! I love you," says your Abba Father, Papa God. He declares over you, "My child, my child: I am so delighted in you. I want to shout it out into all the nations of how proud I am of who you are, and who you have become in me. I give my angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways (Ps. 91:11).
Now, God does Love us, and those things are True, but they are taken out of context. When is God most proud of us? When we Humble ourselves and Pray, and when we’re Repentant and make Sacrifices in Serving Him. Just to say these things over people as a blanket of positive reinforcement is not ministering God’s Truth effectively. In America, the Church as a whole has some Faith and Character issues and I would think that the Message to the American Church is no different than what you read in the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3.
2. Culture and God can co-exist. This message that the culture has something to say to the Church is nonsense. There is no Wisdom or Spiritual Discernment in the culture. God reminds us that if we love the world, the Love of the Father is not in us. Friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God. So, incorporating relevancy from the world makes no Biblical sense. It’s another way where Evil becomes an Angel of Light.
3. Personal responsibility is released by Forgiveness. I do believe when God Forgives us, He doesn’t remember the offense. However, if the Forgiveness was about taking advantage or hurting others, then I think a provision of that Forgiveness comes in the form of Restitution. I remember when I first got saved, I went to my mother and asked her Forgiveness for all the grief I caused her in my teenage years. It was so moving to her she immediately gave her life to the Lord. She said anything that could change me so drastically as to apologize for my behavior was worth accepting. Restitution is not preached today, and it’s a shame. Restitution isn’t about paying penance, but it is making wrongs right. This process of Restitution is a powerful testimony to the work of the Grace of God.
4. Character development is less important than a Faith Message. So many times, in recent weeks we’ve heard from fellow Believers how we need to have Faith in these troubling times. That is True, our Faith will be tested, and we need to stand our ground in Believing God has our backs. However, let’s make some emphasis on how we need to change too. Spiritual people never think there is anything wrong with them, and yet the Scripture often says they are the problem (Hosea 4) (Pharisees and Scribes). During our lifetime of Following Jesus there is a balance between developing Faith in God and developing my Character in the Image of Christ. You may be the only Jesus people see, and it should reflect Him and not you.
5. Repentance and too much information. Listen, I love a good sermon, or a good Bible study, but if our lives aren’t changing to reflect more of Christ in our world, what is the point? Perhaps we need to Repent of taking in so much information and not using it as it was intended. We take in more and more and use less and less as the influence it was intended to make. In the past 20 years, we have more avenues of communication of the Gospel than ever before, yet the Spiritual growth of people has not reflected the many hours of resources we have used. I know that is a judgment call on my behalf, but growth is seen by how we take Truth and apply it to our daily lives.
Well, there you have it. This is how the Message has changed. Our Message in the Church today is less about the Truth of Sacrifice, Obedience, Holiness, Judgment, and Repentance.
Knowing God is more than just a decision, as important as that is, however, the next steps of Spiritually Knowing God are centered on a whole different set of Values than what is often heard in our modern Churches. My goal is always to push you beyond your normal understanding and to encourage you to take hold of His Garment to move closer to Him.
Isaiah 66:2 “Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
Keeping Life Honest and Truthful … Larry Kutzler