By Paul Proctor
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How confusing it must be for those outside the faith who try to connect the Jesus Christ of scripture to the people, groups and institutions of our day that call Him Lord. It’s a wonder ANYONE comes to faith in Christ anymore! Were it up to the machinations of men, clearly no one would. When I myself read Isaiah the prophet’s brief description of the coming Messiah and then view the postmodern church that bears His name, it’s often difficult to see any resemblance or relation between the humble Shepherd and the 21st century sheep.
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him…”- Isaiah 53:2-3
Does this sound like anyone you'd see on stage at Willow Creek or Saddleback?
According to the scriptures, Jesus was wholly unimpressive in appearance. Not only was He aesthetically unattractive but also lowly in His dress and demeanor – utterly forgettable by worldly standards. From what Isaiah describes, we wouldn’t give Him a second look if He passed us on the street.
Only after opening His mouth to reveal the infinite love, wisdom and power of Almighty God did Jesus ultimately seize the undivided attention of the world around Him. Though He wasn’t much to look at in the flesh – once encountered, He was impossible to forget.
What a contrast to those of the church today, where so much of what we say and do in the name of Christ is driven by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life”, (i.e., “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.) – a psychologically driven “faith” that focuses on one’s health, happiness and personal fulfillment rather than crucifying the flesh and it’s appetites and ambitions for the benefit of that which cannot be felt, seen nor achieved.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” - 1 John 2:16
It only stands to reason that if Jesus darkened the doors of today’s high-tech, user-friendly church of “felt needs” and “self-esteem”, His attitude, appearance, behavior, interests, and values would instantly disqualify Him from a leadership role and render Him more of a rival to the cause than an asset – where marketing a universal message of “tolerance, diversity and unity” with style has all but replaced the timeless call to personal sacrifice and obedience and where interpersonal relationships and interaction with groups and organizations regularly take precedence over one’s personal relationship to God and a reverential knowledge of His Word.
A dear lady wrote me the other day after having stumbled upon a near three-year old article of mine entitled: ‘The People’s Church’. She told me that she and her family had also been members of that same congregation at or about the same time and had not found another since leaving there so disillusioned. She went on to add that they had almost given up on finding another church after having been “burned” so badly by the last four they had been a part of. I encouraged her to not give up her search. Stories like hers have been filling my mailbox ever since that article was first published in the summer of 2000. Many seem to find comfort and reassurance in discovering that the problem was not with them after all but rather with the church growth movement that beguiled them – especially after reading about my own traumatic experience with it and seeing how closely it mirrored theirs.
What has happened to the church today that would cause one Christian to ask another what she eventually asked me; “Are there any ‘safe’ churches out there?” And, again, what a disturbing contrast to put today’s new church, new gospel and new Jesus alongside that of the first century, where modesty, humility, faith, obedience, reverence, discipline and self-sacrifice marked the lives of the redeemed and where a believer’s spiritual safety and well-being was, for the most part, threatened only from the outside.
"...If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:9)
I live in a rural area of the country where coyotes run rampant and howl from the hillsides at night. It’s not uncommon for farmers and ranchers here to lose chickens, calves and other small animals to these wolf-like predators. Something, however, has changed dramatically in recent years. Coyotes have become increasingly prevalent and aggressive in urban areas as well. People are losing cats and dogs from right off their back porches. Even the safety of children playing outside has become a concern to parents where these critters have been known to prowl for prey. My brother found the remains of a pet he dearly loved scattered across his backyard not long after seeing a coyote stare at him through the sliding glass doors of his home in a California suburb.
Wolves among the sheep are becoming more prevalent and aggressive in and around our church homes these days also – driven by a desperate and seductive gospel-like agenda, where “creekers” offer “seekers” THE WORLD rather than deliverance FROM IT.
These wolves run among us because we allow them to do so, believing that it is somehow “loving” to be silent and tolerant of their wickedness and deceit – that if God doesn’t want them around He will remove them from our presence Himself, thereby relinquishing any and all personal responsibility to take on the Whole Armor of God and courageously defend the faith and the absolute truth of scripture.
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." - Ephesians 5:11
It is both sad and frustrating to hear so many of those who have escaped the influence and illusion of Willow Creek and Saddleback whisper among themselves from the shadows as if it were somehow dangerous and disgraceful to make public the heresy, abuse and exploitation they endured. It’s like they’re being starred into a submissive silence through the glass doors of their troubled lives by an intimidating presence ever watching from the outside. If they only knew that merely raising their voice in opposition, armed with the Truth of God’s Word and the power of His Holy Spirit, these cowardly creatures that haunt them would scurry away with their tails between their legs.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7b
Unfortunately, we accept and accommodate these night stalkers out of fear and confusion, hoping they’ll get tired and just go away. But I assure you, until we start learning and believing the bible we embrace and emulating the faith and courage of those from the early church who did more than just CALL Jesus “Lord”, the apostasy will grow and we will continue to cower in the presence of howling coyotes and hide in the shadows of our own silence as they carry more of our friends and loved ones away into the darkness.
"A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject." - Titus 3:10
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Other articles by Paul Proctor:
The New Jesus and a Love called Tolerance
DIAPRAX Goes to Seminary | The Travesty of TOLERANCE
Hegelian Dialectic & the New World Order | The Peril of Polls
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state [Tennessee] and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and columnist, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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