Or at least the version of it that’s taught, lived out, preached, practiced and demonstrated in our culture. Too many Christians are afraid of a little resistance and swimming against the current.
I originally wrote this in late 2006 after being back home in Canada to raise some funds and head back to The Netherlands where I was living at the time as a missionary. This post was a response/reaction to some of what I was encountering and dealing with in my heart at the time. The original title was Modern “Christianity” Is For Sissies, based on hearing a message stating that revivalist and divine healing preacher John G. Lake used to say that REAL Christianity is a strong man’s Gospel, but it seemed most people were turned off that title (and this picture) thinking that I was mocking the Gospel, and never bothered to read.
I’m not attacking Christianity. Keep reading.
Frankly, tell underground Christians in closed countries of the world who are dying for their faith and living in prison that we’re “not allowed to talk about this at school” or “your county school board won’t allow intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution.” When at the marriage supper of the Lamb of God you sit across from a little 12 year old Arabic girl whose family killed her for accepting Jesus, tell her the horrible “persecution” you’ve faced living in the Western world.
It’s easy to swim against the tide when you have 500 other people in your community swimming up current with you; when the strength of numbers minimizes the impact of the resistance you face. But what about when you are standing alone? What about when, in the Church, and amongst believers, you may set yourself apart if you dare to take stands on the Word of God despite the status quo?
I’m a “missionary”. That means little for our discussion today, but I mention it because it would help explain to you that when I’ve spent my time back in Canada itinerating, raising support and presenting my ministry to people, showing pictures of various activities I’ve been involved in overseas, or when I’ve been going out for coffees and meals with people and met with a few leaders in the community I come from. I’ve heard a few different sermons here and there, and I’ve read a variety of blogs by believers and non-believers alike. I’ve caught up with friends.
The result? I officially want to scream at how much we’ve ‘sissified’ the Gospel, but think we’re doing a favor to Jesus and the world around us with our fine tuning of it.
Something is terribly wrong, when a total heathen backslider unworthy of being used by God in any capacity like me is considered “fanatical” or “extreme” by the “establishment”—the Church.
For one thing, I’m just like you. We have the same Holy Spirit using unworthy vessels like ourselves. I feel like I’m normal and maybe even sub-par more accurately (and to be completely, vulnerably honest). I try to live out the Gospel as best as I understand it to mean. So if by that standard, I’m “extreme”, then what does that make the rest of the “normal” people saying that? I don’t know, but if I’m your barometer of spirituality (which I shouldn’t be), then the western Church is in desperate need of help!
If you have read my blog or this site for a while, you’ll notice I don’t usually write a large plethora of stories of leading people to Jesus. I count probably like ten total in my life so far that I’m aware of still following Jesus at the time of this writing. I’ve discipled many many more than that however, of whom I was in no way responsible for seeing come to Christ.
Sometimes I feel ashamed for how little fruit that is comparative to my ‘profession’ as a missionary. Others recently (and in the past), thinking they’re buttering me up and stroking my ego tell me things like “you’ve got the gift of evangelism” and I respond “there’s no such thing as a ‘gift’ of evangelism” (There’s the gift of an evangelist as per Eph 4:11 but that’s to equip the Body for evangelizing).
Fact is, I want to pull these peoples’ ears off and tell them that associating me with a gift is their way of excusing their lack of zeal for evangelizing themselves. We do that all the time: someone starts laying hands on the sick, seeing results and we excuse ourselves from taking the same risk and stepping out in faith and chalk it up to a “gift” the other person has that we don’t. The only gift involved is tenacity, and you are in charge of whether you have that or not, not the Lord.
So what are we so afraid of? Rejection? If they don’t listen, keep praying for them, and try again with other people who might.
I’ve been at house parties with mixed company, Christians and nonbelievers, and get shushed or corrected by certain people for talking “too much about Jesus” to so and so because they’re not saved and this believer is “working on them”. For one thing, how ridiculous is it to be told by other alleged believers you talk of Jesus too much? If my sharing the Gospel is going to do damage to whatever “work” you are doing on them, then I assure you: you are and have been wasting your time, because the Word of God never returns void, but accomplishes what He purposes for it (Isa 55:10-11).
Are you ashamed of Jesus?
Is that the real reason it bothers you so much? Because I won’t beat around the bush but go for the heart of the matter? Or how do you know in one moment I might not be the answer to all the prayers you’ve been praying for someone, and lo and behold in that moment I’m there getting through to someone’s heart in a way that a long time friend might be unable to? Rapport & building trust, and seizing God-ordained opportunities are two different things. And besides, if you were really witnessing to them, they wouldn’t need me to!
How the heck else are people going to learn the Gospel if believers are too afraid of sharing it with them? I’m all for living it out and “not always using words”, but something is wrong when believers are afraid you’re too preachy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nobody is going to get to heaven and wish they’d slowed down or were quieter about the Gospel.
I find people get defensive as soon as you say anything regarding engaging the culture with the Gospel in any specific way, and start to defend to me why they don’t do it, even though this happens when I was never saying they should. What makes people start telling me all they do and don’t do with the Gospel message? Especially when I’m not making it a standard to judge spirituality by? Something is starting to tell me it’s because we’re afraid of looking, coming across as, or BEING fanatics for Jesus.
Who is calling us the “Elijah Generation” or “History Makers”? The world, or ourselves?
Christians, especially my generation, like to call themselves “history makers” or “revolutionaries”—when most of us are about as revolutionary as a new vacuum cleaner. I don’t know how most believers could call themselves any of those things if they don’t leave their young adult conventions and campus Christian clubs and actually change history and start a revolution!
Just calling ourselves things doesn’t make us so. In fact, history remembers those who swam against the tide and did something unheard of, not those who went with the flow and blended in. You are not revolutionary if you blend into the culture or merely form a subculture in it, but if you are a COUNTER cultural movement.
There’s this big trend in Christian circles to “be relevant”, and being too spiritual is frowned upon, or so I’ve noticed and has been my experience. Friend, you will never be relevant to the culture around you if you are not relevant in the kingdom of heaven. There’s a reason demons say “Paul I know, Jesus I know, but who are you?”
There’s so many catchphrases and lingo people like using anymore such as those, and “apostolic” and “New Testament Christianity.” Every group or circle of Christians I know of who claim to be New Testament better take a good look at the book of Acts and really evaluate if they’re embracing everything taught there.
Charismatics and full Gospel churches: do you sell everything you have and lay it at your teachers’ feet like the early church?
Baptists: do you omit anything from The Book claiming it not to be for today?
What about the community-oriented fellowships who increase in number and evangelize consistently: do you get arrested for preaching the Gospel? Do you get martyred and stoned, because that was also New Testament Christianity! I tire of listening to so many people restore ONE detail of the New Testament to their fellowship, stop there, and think that makes the entire difference as to if one is “New Testament” or not.
There is no such thing as a New Testament church except IN the New Testament, and if one opened up in one of our cities, the rest of us would overlook our differences in doctrine, join together and excommunicate them and label them a cult.
I don’t want a New Testament church anyway, that was for back then. Personally, I want whatever God’s idea is now for our specific generation, and use the past to build upon as a foundation, not as something to mimic. I don’t want the baby form of the Church akin to how it was in its 1st century infancy, I want the adult last days form.
Whatever it is we’ve got has clearly been very little threat to the powers and principalities of the air in our cities. If we’re going to call our selves a “New Testament” church, then we need to be doing AT LEAST the same things they were, and having the same things said about us: “they’re starting trouble all over the world” (Acts 17:6).
If they’re not saying that about us in our day, then it’s because our ‘message’ is for sissies.
July 24th/11 Edit:
In the meantime, check this poignant video someone’s shared with me. Sad to say, this video may be satire, but it’s not far from the truth from some of what I’ve seen, related to this post.