Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Greatest Travesty

What is the greatest travesty of the modern church era?

Bad music?  Bad preaching?  Hyper-grace?  Expecting to see signs, wonders and healing?  Speaking in tongues?

I submit to you, it's none of those things.  And while this next statement may seem out of context, it's not: I used to think that it was impossible to be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good.  I honesty didn't understand the concept: how could the two be in conflict with one another?  But I've come to realize that being heavenly minded is the thing that our churches try to instill - literally.

We're told that heaven is better than this life.  We're told that misery, trials and tribulations are our lot while "in the flesh," but not to worry: heaven is better.  Just remember where you're headed; and while you're at it, try to convince some others to come along with you because God made a better place for us and He wants us to be with Him there - where there's no misery, no tears and no worries (a seemingly difficult truth in light of Revelation 21:1-4 and modern preaching, I might add).

In essence, heaven is the goal, the touchdown and even to some, the pay-back for all of those who didn't choose their righteous path towards heaven.

Therefore, I submit to you that the travesty that modern preaching has foisted upon humanity is that heaven is the thing to be sought and obtained.  In doing so, we have turned the pursuit of heaven into our religion, the gospel into it's foundational axiom, and Jesus into it's causality.

In setting heaven as the goalpost, we have made Jesus merely a bystander along the way in our religion of seeking something  better.

We are so consumed with exiting our current sufferings that we have rejected the truth that exists in Jesus
Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
When we practice the Religion of Heaven, Jesus becomes a tool and the Bible our faith object.  In doing so, we find ourselves searching the scriptures looking for the next nugget to propel us back to the plateau of happy thoughts and abject rejection of ourselves and our earthly habitation.  And in doing so, we take offense in Jesus by make Him a mere steppingstone in our religion of the Journey to Something Better, aka, Heaven.

The Enemy has so infiltrated the Christian culture that we have come to believe that Heaven is our inheritance, the Bible is our faith object and the pastor/teacher is our helper.  The truth is that Jesus is our inheritance, Holy Spirit is our Helper, and God is our Faith Object.

In the section of scripture often called the beatitudes, (be of this attitude), we find this tidbit of wisdom:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God  (Matthew 5:8)
The average pastor teaches this section of scripture as something "we should be," or "attitudes we should have," but at the same time, re-qualifies this verse as justifying moral excellence.  In other words, they're teaching that if you're morally excellent, you'll see or find God.  The problem with this bit of tortured reasoning is that the natural man can't achieve moral excellence on his own - only Jesus can bring moral excellence to the human condition.

So then, what are we to make of this scripture?  What does it mean to be 'pure in heart'; if not morality, then what?

When we understand the definition of pure, the meaning begins to come into focus:
Not mixed or adulterated with other material
An impure heart is a unfocused heart, it is a heart with split allegiance or desires.

Matthew 5:8 comes into focus when we understand that it's not referring to moral purity (something unobtainable) but focus purity (something that is obtainable): a heart completely focused upon, and surrendered to, Jesus.

Over the years, the church has designed alternative worship objects: such as pastor worship, bible worship, experience worship, educational worship and heaven worship - just to name a few.  All of these elements are designed to create within us an impure heart - a heart not focused on a single element, that being Jesus Christ.  We cannot set our hearts on heaven and also on Jesus.  A pure heart is an undivided heart, just as pure gold and pure silver have no other defiling elements.

Therefore, the greatest travesty of the modern church era is that it creates impure hearts within people through the encouragement to desire things other than Jesus; to encourage faith in things other than Jesus; to teach that life with Jesus Christ in the here-and-now is not something to be desired more than arriving in heaven.
Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One)  (Philippians 3:8

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