Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so,
Just the other day I was driving down an intersection close to my home and I noticed a new building taking shape close to the shopping mall. It was an odd shaped building with lots of curves and sharp angles to it and I really couldn’t make out what it must have been. I did notice however that it had a strange name printed out front on a temporary banner, some kind of nautical term. I thought, ok it must be some kind of a boat shop or something. Little did I know that it was actually a church.
I received a mailer later that month inviting me to their “meetings”. It was a beautiful brochure with color photos of the new facility that quite frankly looked like a state of the art concert hall. The main stage had a large platform with huge speakers and showed a rock type band singing under gargantuan colored keg lights. The pastor was dressed in jeans with an Ed Hardy t-shirt under an expensive designer blazer. His hair was spiked and he was wearing an ear mike and he stood behind a small musicians stand like those used in recording studios. They had big colored pictures of the arena type seating with plush chairs that reclined and rocked (at least that’s what the brochure said) and the two screens at the front of the stadium were state of the art promising better sound quality than the latest movie theatre. They had everything you could want, meetings for kids at various times, teens night out and even a special day moms could come and drop off their babies for a free afternoon.
Only one thing was missing from the invitation “Jesus.”
Not in three whole pages of five color splendor did I read one word about Jesus or the bible. They said they were a “new” kind of church with a “new” approach to God. They said they were interdenominational and welcomed all faiths and even those with none. They promised great music with lots of relevant messages. No statement of purpose, no doctrine of faith, nothing. Just come and join us and have fun. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it? Nothing too pressing, nothing too convicting, just everyone being happy with God. I wasn’t altogether sure just what God they were referencing though.
The great psalmist Keith Green sang the words “we have made God in our own image so that our worship is idolatry.” It’s a different gospel when Christ is no longer the center of our message. We are living in a day now when it’s hard to know who is on the Lord’s side. Lately fewer and fewer churches are wanting to identify with the risen Christ. They want to identify with cutting edge music, or technology or politics or socialism or anything but the unadulterated word of God.
Most people who currently identify themselves as Christian can’t even articulate what they believe to be true. We are entering into a time when the saints need to know what they believe. Now is not the time to shrink back and meld ourselves into the world’s woodwork. If a church doesn’t even look like a church, what of the people gathered inside? Our churches can be creative for sure but why is no one speaking of the cross or the blood for without either there is no remission of sin.
Perhaps it’s because sin is now of no consequence in this one size fits all gospel. We don’t want to talk of sin and hurt anyone’s feelings any more after all they might not come and then who would we tap for the building fund? These days we encourage and we psychoanalyze, we rock out and we get our dance on for sure but do we bring a heart to conviction and ultimate surrender to the cross of Christ? When God asks us "to rend our hearts and not our garments"(Joel 2:13) what does he mean? He means he wants an intimate connection and not a superficial demonstration.
All it takes is one voice to "ahem" speak what we know matters most and we could set the pendulum swinging in a new direction. Music and great storytelling are gifts that God can certainly use but they're only a means to an end. "Oh precious is the flow that cleanses white as snow, no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus." Gifts can bring a crowd but only the cross preached can save a soul.
Undoubtedly we’ve been dazzled by the gifts and never bothered to check the fruit. Gifts are not enough. It’s by our fruit that we will be known. In this new season there will be a strong focus on developing true spiritual character in ourselves and in our churches and that can only be achieved by the washing of his word. No sound barrier amps, stadium seating, designer duds or futuristic architecture will do the trick. It is by the fruit of the spirit that we will be known. Let's work on developing godly character, maturity and fruitfulness in 2010. The day is coming when the only way we will be able to discern true disciples will be by their fruit and not their gifts.
The old folks used to say; if it waddles like a duck it’s a duck. I look at the contemporary church today and just scratch my head.