I love when the church shines with the standards of what the gospel requires. A friend of mine who is an elder in a church in Las Vegas shared with me how their church in the midst of the gambling, prostitution, and drug trade had an overwhelming response on Easter with decisions for Christ and baptisms. To me, that is the gold standard of the gospel. You are in the thick of darkness, yet your light is not dimmed,it shines even more brightly.
I admit, I do write quite often about how the church has put a dimmer on it's light, and puts a mood on its message that they think will be more appealing to the crowd. In most cases, the mood alternative does not make the message of the gospel more appealing, nor does it make disciples.
The standards of the gospel in recent years has taken on a cryptic nature of trying to be more relevant than honest. We try to mask our intentions with savory stories, and self help methods of ministry that we think may create a hunger for what our real intent is in introducing Christ. In the past C.S.Lewis was very successful in writing a cryptic story of a Lion and a Wardrobe that illustrated the story of Christ. There may even be many other successful stories like The Chronicles of Narnia that get the message of Christ across to an audience in a cryptic fashion, but most fail at it miserably. Here is why I believe we need to re-evaluate the standards of the gospel.
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
Sin and the darkness it creates, does not know boundaries, sin has a limitless appetite for human destruction, and the only way to defeat it's aggressive behavior is to met it head on with the truth of the gospel. When we water down the enemy of sin by not exposing it, or telling the truth about the effects of sin, we are not operating within the standards of the gospel. These are desperate times, and society is forming the patterns for what the world will eventually evolve into which will be a dark and evil place. Let me illustrate
1. Good will no longer have a definition, it will all be gray, and evil will have a strong presence of acceptance
2. People can not be trusted to govern themselves, they need governance, oversight on everything, and people will give up their freedoms for the safety of authority
3. People will not accept facts as proof anymore, they have been trained to be emotionally motivated through entertainment. To illustrate this, entertainers have more credibility than politicians, and are more believable.
4. Theology will create a god that will accept cultural norms of immorality. Theology will no longer be a place of honor and reverence, it will become as divided as the political landscape. The scandals of priests and the molestation of children are just the beginning of slippery slope of public mistrust.
5. Jesus will be reinvented, and compromised from the Jesus of the Bible. He will be more of a social activist with Marxist tendencies. Revisionists will continue to wax worse as they spin stories of the Bible in ways that are not true.
6. Sin is a concept that will totally be eradicated from our vocabulary, because sin is negative, and society does not do negative anymore. Without sin, there is no need for a Savior. Goodbye evangelism.
Now we have seen all of these things in the making for many years now, but my point in drawing your attention to them, is they will increase in power and influence. When the days get darker and more sinister in nature, Christians who resist such movements in society must step up their game in order to keep from being inundated by evil. My fear is that older believers are wearing out, and younger believers aren't being trained to replace them with the skills of discernment. With no discernment or spiritual understanding, evil walks all over it's victims, almost as easily as Russia did when they annexed Crimea.
The standards must be upheld and strengthened in our churches. If society was a patient coming to a hospital for diagnosis you wouldn't sit down and do test after test, you would call for the surgeon and operate. It's that serious of a condition. We do not have the luxury of time to experiment for best practices, we just have to tell the truth.
When we went from teaching the doctrines of the Bible to telling stories, we began to erode the standards of the gospel. It was a nice approach to gathering an audience, but it made the truth less known.
Sorry to pop your bubble, but desperate times demand desperate measures, so lets get back to the standards.
Keeping it honest and truthful...K