I recently sat in a diversity meeting. The higher-ups had invited clergy from around our area and were there to talk about how to help people be “good” in our society; how to be a good person. Excited did not even begin to describe my enthusiasm for this section of the training we were at. It’s not often that a secular institution would invite clergy in to speak about such a topic.
However, my enthusiasm quickly faded as religious leader after religious leader sat behind their podiums and twaddled on about positive self-esteem and treating people with respect. While these ideas are good ideas, they pale in comparison to what they could have spoken about; the truth of how Jesus Christ purifies all people who would call upon his name, believe in Him, and turn from their sin. I sat in this conference room with nearly a hundred people from the secular counseling world and fumed. Here were the supposed religious leadership of our local community and none of them ever even mentioned the name of Jesus.
They were given a golden ticket into the enemy’s camp and squandered the chance to speak the name of Christ to people who may never step foot into a church. Let’s be honest though, should I have been surprised? Should I have expected anything less? Today, we are seeing the opposite of what Jesus saw in his time. People aren’t overly religious, being held up by rules and regulations, they are overly focused on self, believing that they are good enough without Christ or the Bible. It is said, that these ideas are outdated. As long as we are just “good people” we will be fine.
In 2004, my wife and I were newly married. We had just moved back to my hometown of Charleston in West Virginia so that I could start on my master’s degree in counseling at Marshal University. We found ourselves in a church down in South Charleston and were attempting to get plugged into the community there. It was around this time that I discovered Rob Bell’s book, Velvet Elvis. Along with this book, I also found his short video series called Nooma. It’s not without some chagrin that I tell you that I loved this guy! He was speaking about the Bible and Christianity in a new and interesting way. It got me excited to delve into the Bible again with renewed vigor for the truth that could be uncovered there.
My excitement was short-lived. Mr. Bell’s edginess in looking at the Gospel soon devolved into meaningless prattle. First with his book called Love Wins and then later with a book called The Zimzum of Love. The former (Love Wins) basically outlines how Mr. Bell no longer believes in a literal Hell. While the latter (The Zimzum of Love), details how he believes homosexual marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage. Now, those two thoughts aren’t the only thoughts in these books, but each also disqualifies much of what is said as being relevant to the Christian person. Save to give us an understanding of depravity.
Rob Bell is just one of many “spiritual leaders” in our time that is falling short. Sometimes getting the praise (and money) by appealing to the Oprah crowd is just too much for some people to turn away from. It’s easy to please the majority. It’s easy to speak what you know will get you “likes” and “hearts” when you post online or even stand to speak. Let’s be honest though, many times, it’s not those that stand, but those that continue to sit that are the ones who are truly lost. Jesus being the only way and the only truth is a headstoned idea in the mind of the public at large.
I’m going to be honest with you my reader. I’m sick of this. The poison of not only society but also of the “church” is like bile rising in my throat. Retching, I am ready to partake of some real food. Something that doesn’t taste sweet at first only to give me indigestion later. I want substance. I want meaning. I want the Truth of the Gospel. I’m ready to get serious about what it means to be a Christian. Are you ready to come with me? To look at Christianity in a way that will transform your life? Because let’s be honest, if your life looks exactly like the lives of the non-Christians around you, are you truly a Christian at all? There needs to be a death in the Church. Christians need to understand that for Christ to live, they must die. They must embrace the death of self.
D. Michl Lowe