THE LOVE OF APPEARANCE (Part 2)
The curse of Christianity today in much of the West may well be the creation of an image of God that is molded and shaped according to the religious culture people find themselves in. We have the Charismatic culture, the evangelical culture, the new Catholic culture, the Baptist culture, etc. We have the prophetic camp, the word of faith camp, the vineyard camp, the revival camp, and on and on. Infiltrated into many of these cultures and camps is the seeker-friendly philosophy of reaching larger numbers of people, based on a removal or a veiling of Christian theology that is least appealing to the world. But for the most part, in the visible to the eye mainstream of Christianity, except perhaps in a few places, the Lord Himself is not being glorified because we are so divided. People don’t need a cultural Jesus or a traditional Jesus or a seeker-friendly Jesus. They need a living word that will pierce through the veil of their own hearts and reveal the real Jesus to them. They need an encounter with God.
The love of appearance is killing us spiritually. I’m not speaking of having things look honorable and excellent.The root of this stronghold that I call love of appearance is not outward. I’m speaking of something much more deceptive. It’s a superficiality, an irreverence, a pride and hypocrisy that couldn’t even enter into the early Church. Ananias and Sapphira walked in it and were struck down. They wanted to be recognized for their generosity and having given all, so for the love of appearance they lied, and then they died. It was more spiritual than physical, inward not outward. Except for the Holy Spirit no one knew what was going on in their hearts. The great need of the hour is for more prophets and apostles like Peter, full of the Holy Ghost, who are able to see right through man-made facades, and then preach a burning word that convicts of sin and cuts away motives, attitudes, and things that are dishonoring to God.
The early Church was yet in its infancy. They were still localized in Jerusalem only. If this pride and hypocrisy, rooted in the love of appearance, had been allowed to fester it would’ve marred the purity of Christ’s body and killed the glory. Instead, the glory killed it. Judgment is always equal to the level of glory.
During my viewing of the aforementioned video clip referred to in Part 1 if this article I caught another all too familiar glimpse of the self-based nature of the modern gospel and the mainstream word that is preached. Nothing of Christ, the Holy Spirit, or anything bearing his character and nature was mentioned. Like far too many messages today, it was all about us. It was all about us overcoming, us fighting, us getting our blessing, us receiving all that is ours, with no focus or even minor referencing to Jesus and his heart and ways. As I wrote in my book, The Real Gospel, this all points to an inordinate deification of man that has become the apex of 21st century Christianity in America whereby millions of people are being deceived.
I believe the only way the glory can be restored in the Church today is through humility and the fear of the Lord. We must fall to our knees and repent of the vanity and futility of our own efforts. Large crowds and man’s approval are not sure proof signs of a move of God, or that preachers even know Him. Much of the ungodliness in present day America falls on the shoulders of preachers. We’ve led people to us and our visions, ministries, and churches more than to Him. We’ve exalted charisma, talent, attendance, buildings, cash, religious activity, and the love of appearance far more than we have the Holy One.
Ananias and Sapphira stood before Peter clutching on to a lie based on a desire to be recognized and esteemed, and rooted in the love of appearance. Unbeknownst to them however, was the fact that they stood not before man, but before the high court of heaven and the majestic glory of Him whom John, when he saw Him, “fell at his feet as dead” (Rev 1:17). Are our corporate gatherings marked with this holy focus and awareness of Him whose glory no flesh can stand?
Jesus is walking amidst the lampstands (churches – Rev 2:1). He is not concerned with the government, the economy, or world affairs as He is with His churches. Can we see Him, or is all the smoke from the methods and machinery of men blocking our view?