THE LOVE OF APPEARANCE (Part 1)

A moral and spiritual crisis marks 21st century American Christianity. It is ironic that with so much knowledge at our fingertips Biblical illiteracy seems to be at an all-time high. People are still easily duped and deceived by the glitter and the gold, the hype and the hoopla, the superficiality and the showmanship that marks so much of American Christianity today, not to mention the many wolves in sheep’s clothing that stalk our land. The visible church in the mainstream of this great country is gradually becoming a hollow echo even with its million dollar edifices, high tech media, and silver-tongued orators. People are putting their faith in the wisdom of men and their eloquence, their persuasive words, clever phrases, and logical dissertations. The demonstration of the Spirit and power of God operating through humble, broken men is fading. But God has reserved far better for those who possess an intimate knowledge of their God. They will do exploits!

As a compelling example of the hollow echo effect, I was watching a video clip of a short sermon excerpt someone sent to me. The person who sent it to me thought it was hot stuff. In this clip a nationally known television preacher was whooping it up preaching and hollering something about the need for people to press through their tired state. Many in this large congregation were standing up and wagging their heads and waving their hands, but all the while I was sensing grief.

Trying hard not to be critical, I pondered what I was watching. “Why am I sensing this grief, Lord? What is this? It feels so unclean to me.” As I continued to weigh the heaviness in my spirit, here are the words I heard: “It’s just a show – you’re sensing the showmanship and the love of appearance that is such a big part of Christianity in the West today. It is as little children playing church. It is a subtle religious form of man-centered entertainment. But because scripture is attached to it people are often deceived by it, and don’t realize that they are receiving another spirit.” Oh God!

More of my own questions raced through my mind: Do you sense His presence at all? Can you relate even a little to these people’s excitement? What do you think will happen to these people? What is at the root of this sort of behavior?

Honest responses rose up within me: There is no presence of God here. I sense nothing. It is only emotion. I feel so disconnected from these people’s excitement. Most of them have made a huge idol out of this celebrity preacher, and whatever he says they will take it as God saying it. He is not leading them to you, Lord.

I continued to muse within myself: This is the grief I feel. They are being further and further separated from your holy knowledge. Unless they have a rude awakening they will never really know you and your ways, will they? What will be their end? They have formed another God according to their own brand of Christianity. It’s almost as if Christianity has been separated from Christ himself. Now that is a very sobering thought that reveals volumes about Christianity in many places. (End of Part 1)

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