What if everything we have been doing for generations, if not centuries has been futile and worthless. The church is struggling to find itself and is choosing ever more extreme events, exhausting the body and causing them to ask questions about the reality of this relationship with Christ. In some sense there has been a big ‘bait an switch’. The professional pastor class is offering peace, victory, and wholeness if only you would conform to the practices and forms of our particular way of doing Christianity. The truth is the typical Christian life is one of confusion about this whole God thing, self doubt, weakness and little influence. I had a recent conversation about this confusion with a close friend and he said, ” I’m lost and I cannot even tell you why?” He was not lost in terms of his salvation, but he was trying to describe the overwhelming disconnect with finding Christ within modern Christianity as formed in our culture.
I grew up in a performance based, law driven system. To be a part of the church every area of your life; dress, speech, food, etc. was measured against the system and the group. I was trained to think my growth and maturity was upto me. I was in control over the outcomes in my life, in contrast God clearly says he is the “author and finisher’, ‘ that he plans for me to prosper’, and ‘that he knit me in the womb.’ The end result of all these systems traditions, practices, that we end up making ourselves idols, gods to be worshipped, because we are ultimately in charge of our destinies and future separated from God. The sad thing is the entire time we are not accessing God at all. We have been converted to a set of practices, styles of worship, type of preaching, certain doctrines, tongues or no tongues, cessationist, etc., never really experiencing the reality of Christ. We end up saying, ” I tried that Christian thing and it does not work.”
What has happened? Jesus is going to return and ask us, What are you doing? He will be confused for sure. HIs word even says this in Matthew 7. The individuals in this scripture are saying “we did this and that in your name, cannot you see we were really busy for you.” And Jesus says, “depart from me I never knew you.” Pretty harsh words for sure. The problem is that the deception of Christianity in its modern form is seductive and powerful. Christianity promises so much. Promising to grow you and make your lives better. In many ways, the Christian organizations are offering wonderful things and programs, for couples, kids, and more, but are largely separated from the person of Jesus Christ. This separation causes these programs to be no different than the common 12 step programs we see throughout our culture. The alcoholic is always an alcoholic and must attend these meeting the rest of their lives. There is no eternal change or life transformation. They must commit to a system, an external force to get through the day, week, or month. Christianity’s cultural positioning and practices(12 step program)has replaced Christ as the standard for spiritual development to establish the character and nature of Christ in our spirits and bodies. Churches are forced to have recurring leadership conferences, or revivals, to revive and reorient the wayward Christian who is not experiencing Christ because they don’t know how. The professional pastor who is paid to do this ‘stuff’ says “this will help or do it this way, just like me.”
Denominations are formed over subtle distinctions and differences over the law, how I dress, what I eat, etc. Seventh day Adventists, will not drink coffee. Mennonites wear costumes of modesty to supposedly show what has occurred in their hearts. The charismatics put on huge displays of emotionalism to offer evidence how they are quite in the know when it comes to God and the way he wants things done. To be a part of these groups you must conform to each individual distinction or be asked to leave. Conformity to the practices and “our way” of doing things is highest importance. Christ is never really a consideration truthfully. He is used an excuse or more commonly his wards are used as a slogan to justify the distinction. All of these groups are saying, “we live to higher standard.” The problem is the standard was created by man, not God. This is just one of a thousand problems I can see in the church today. Can you see why people are confused and not finding the real thing, Jesus?
Christians are making commitments to forms and systems of spiritual behavior, styles and traditions, using Jesus as cover to provide credibility to our efforts, expecting real relationship with Christ. I declare quite often we are doing faith backwards, wondering out loud, “what are we doing?” Church is saying do it our way and you find God. Not true. Christ is the standard and the only way to real change.
We should constantly and consistently pursue God forming his character in our inner parts, submitting our bodies and God’s nature will flow from our lives. Spiritual formation and transformation comes from exposure to God, to Jesus, the teacher, not from exposure to systems or traditions formed by men over time. The church says add these behaviors and you will find God. God is saying find me and your thinking(promise of sound mind), words, attitudes, intentions, emotions, and behaviors will be different, changed forever. The bible has powerful words like; seek ye first the kingdom or seek and find or hunger and thirst after me, abide,and more, and from this follows a changed life. Many times doing almost nothing but sitting quietly with the Jesus as a instructs you in who he is, eternal change occurs. Christ is the standard and the only way to real change.