THE TUMULTUOUS 2020s: THE COUNTER CULTURE CHURCH CANNOT CO-EXIST (Part 4)

In spite of church growth-ism in America … in spite of the greatest number of megachurches in our history … in spite of many seemingly successful Christian enterprises…in spite of pastors boasting of their supposed impact … we are experiencing the most rapid moral decline in America’s history.

Atheism and heathenism have accelerated. Our public school system and universities are mass producing socialists, communists and those with an aggressive anti-Christ agenda. And get this: Nearly half of all Millennial Christians now believe evangelism is wrong. Hard to believe that one, but those Barna surveys are fairly accurate.

Driven by a lust for popularity, position and power, many church pastors and leaders have wantonly turned a deaf ear to this national disaster that has dismantled faith and morality in America. It is a terrible thing to think that much of what we call “Christianity” in our land has become a system void of the reality and power that marked its earliest beginnings. In a majority of our churches, tradition, formality, entertainment and social justice have actually made their version of “Christianity” perhaps the greatest enemy of the cause of Christ—a bastion of order, technique, form, and philosophy that has ironically served to immunize us against the real Christ and the real gospel. Probably the worst of it is that we’ve become a consumer-driven and image-based enterprise that has left off the real demands of Christ and the call to genuine discipleship that makes us all fishers of men.

Listen to the words of Eugene Peterson:

“A huge religious marketplace has been set up in North America to meet the needs and fantasies of people just like us. There are conferences and gatherings custom-designed to give us what we need. Books and videos and seminars promise to let us in on the Christian “secret” of whatever we feel is lacking in our life: Financial security, well-behaved children, weight loss, exotic sex, travel to holy sites, exciting worship and celebrity teachers. The people who promote these goods and services all smile a lot and are good looking.

“We have become consumers of packaged spiritualities. This is idolatry. We never think of using this term for it, since everything we are buying or paying for is defined by the adjective “Christian.” But idolatry it is nevertheless: God packaged as a product; God depersonalized and made available as a technique or program. The Christian market in idols has never been more brisk or lucrative.”

HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS

As men and women, young and old, are becoming more and more dissatisfied with the systems of this world and of the American gospel enterprise version of Christianity, we are now seeing a remnant of true God seekers who actually pray and fast, and are passionate lovers of Jesus who will not compromise the gospel and resort to slick marketing to draw the attention of society. They are preaching the offense of the cross of Christ, not with enticing words of man’s speech but in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. They are trusting the Holy Spirit to direct and build the church. We are now seeing a growing number of these messengers and God-men on the scene, and more are coming. It is a countercultural Christianity that will be contagious and spread like wildfire among those who long for real meaning and purpose in life. These are the Jesus people, the Jesus lovers.

This will result in a collision with consumerism Christianity that’s based on compromise and flows with the culture. There will be a mass exodus from so called “progressive” and “seeker-friendly” churches, and a great harvest of prodigals and false converts will be restored and genuinely converted. It will upset the religious crowd and much of our humanistic American culture. The two shall no longer coexist. There will be uprisings. There could even be riots. There will be increased persecution of the righteous. But there will also be revivals and explosions of zeal witnessed in fiery new converts.

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. It’s not too late. In fact, it’s just beginning.

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A COMPELLING HOLIDAY SERIES: WILL THE REAL CHRISTMAS JESUS PLEASE STAND UP?

When we see Jesus as He is, 
glorious and worthy of our deepest loyalties and affections,
 deserving of our total focus and supreme attention;
 we will catch fire inwardly and burn with holy fear, and a holy hunger for the Word will grip our hearts,
 and we will proclaim Him as He is. ~Anonymous~

We celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas, but for most He is not the center of the rejoicing and celebration that marks this time of year. I think many of us would agree that Christmas has become so commercialized that Christ is hardly noticed, much less celebrated and revered.

Easter would be in the same category. How in the world a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could’ve ever evolved into an affinity with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs I’ll never know. Such is the tenuous nature of idolatry.

Is it possible for Jesus Christ to be lost at Christmas time and in Christianity in general, the very religion whose name it bears and professes? We know that without a relationship with Christ, just another religion is all that remains. We also know from scripture that someone can profess to know Christ but in works actually deny Him (Titus 1:16). But isn’t it also true that in works many may profess to know Him, but in authentic heart knowledge they do not?

Who knew Jehovah in Old Testament times? That earthly system of Judaism was to point the way to Christ, but in actuality it hid Him from the multitudes who were enmeshed in the works of the law. The external had glossed over the need for the internal. Sin and death reigned in the old order of the Law and all its rituals and ceremonial rules and customs.

Isn’t the same true today? There is an external order in modern Christianity that seems to rule and it is quite evident during the Christmas holidays. Its emphasis on appearance, hype, professionalism, showmanship, production, and commercialism that is prominent, especially during this time of year,  tends to hide the real Jesus from us. It easily allows us to deceive ourselves into thinking that somehow God is pleased with all this while Christ is glossed over.

Even many of our contemporary churches with their Madison Avenue tactics have become echo chambers for the latest trends in pop psychology, marketing, politics, entertainment, and entrepreneurial leadership while the piercing revelation of Christ and His simple demands are often overlooked or packaged in a way to make Him palatable to the masses.

We have become all too enamored with our own glory in the kingdoms that we are building, at times totally unaware of receiving that invisible kingdom “that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:2).

Judaism with all its forms, rituals, and framework began its removal 2,000 years ago and was replaced with a spiritual, heavenly standard established in the New Covenant. And now in this end time marks once again the removal of all that is external to bring us to a forcing point, and it is this: 

After all is said and done, how much of the Christ do you really have? Not what you do, not what you’ve built, not what you have, not all the shopping and gift giving and receiving done at Christmas time, not even the noble activities which constitute your Christian life, but how much of the Christ Himself have you got?

This Christmas series contains modified excerpts from my book, The Real Jesus. It is a book that I’d love to put into the hands of many during this holiday season. It would make a great gift.

If this article has been a blessing to you please share it. And may God make you a blessing during this Christmas season as you exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.