Have we minimized the message of the cross in an attempt to seem more relevant to an increasingly modern world? Instead of conforming to the image of Christ, have we tried to conform Christ to agree with our image, our lifestyle, and our culture? How does our understanding of truth and love affect our view of the Lord and ourselves? Does our life ultimately line up with the scripture? Do the ways we do our church line up with what Jesus had in mind when he established the church? Do we set the margins for how we live by the climate of our culture or from the scriptures?
We live in a modern world where technology moves so fast it is obsolete almost as fast as it arrives; where the possibilities of science and medicine seem limitless. Anything you want is available at the touch of a finger, or the click of a mouse. We live in the information age, and although we are drowning in knowledge, it seems we are starving for wisdom-wisdom that comes only from God.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where our culture's attitude toward the God of the Bible seems to be growing ever colder. Have we outgrown the old rugged cross and the simple Gospel of Christ? Are we so evolved and enlightened that our dependence on God is a thing of the past? It seems we have traded in the Gospel of Christ as being the only way to God, for a more modern gospel. Something not so absolute, something less black and white. Maybe something a little more relevant and up to date with the culture of our time.
Should we be adapting what we believe to fit in with an ever-changing world? Should we be careful to not offend the evolved sensibilities of this modern culture? The answer is a resounding no! Our world needs the truth. Unadulterated and uncut.
This world needs Jesus, the same Jesus that died on the cross and rose again on the third day. So why aren't we proclaiming the truth about the glory of this gospel from the rooftops? Why does is it seem we are retreating back from boldly proclaiming the truth about our Savior? The truth that without Christ we are destined for judgment and eternal separation from God. Where is the salt; where is the light? It seems we have cut out the salt for the sake of our diet, and we have dimmed the light so we can blend in and look like the world we were once trying to reach. Maybe if we fit in and look like the world, we can attract more people to our churches. Maybe if we tell people what they want to hear, we can reach more people. But what are we reaching them with? And what are we attracting them to? If we compromise the truth to make people feel more comfortable in our churches, we are doing them a great disservice.
If the Gospel of Christ is the only means by which we are saved, then why does it seem many within the modern church wish to minimize its importance? They don't necessarily deny it, they just don't talk much about it-at least not all of it. They leave out essential elements such as repentance. Many people preach a "just-believe gospel," but the Bible clearly says that repentance is a necessary component of salvation.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10
We say we want a real and meaningful relationship with God, but we can't seem to fit Him into our busy schedules. Our lives are cluttered with so much stuff we just don't have room for Him. So many things are fighting for our time and attention. In a well-meaning way we say with resolve, "I need to pray more, seek God more, fast more,"-as if it is work we have put off, or a list of chores we will eventually get around to.
I'm going to make a bold statement. We don't make it a priority because it's not a priority to us. But the solution isn't to buckle down and try harder. You can never try hard enough to make yourself love something you don't. Either you do or you don't.
Don't confuse what I'm saying. I'm not saying that love is a feeling, because it's not, but I am saying that our world is full of people who think that it is. They let their feelings lead them around, in and out of relationships, in and out of depression, never satisfied, without fidelity, without honesty. I am not talking just about people outside the church. There are many people who can never experience joy, because they don't understand what love truly is. Or should I say it this way: perhaps they don't have a genuine relationship with the one who is love-God.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8
If we are not full of passion and love for God, it may be because we don't really know Him. We haven't pressed in enough to find out who He is; because to know Him is to love Him. It seems everyone knows about the God of the Bible, but many haven't taken the time to get to know Him from the Bible, from prayer, and from personal encounter. We form our opinion about Him from fragments and pieces we borrowed from other people's relationship with Him. You cannot have a proxy relationship with God, or anyone else for that matter. At least not one that is deep and intimate anyway.
We are so overloaded with information and so busy, that making time for God is just another chore. Why do we settle for this? Why is it so hard to put the God who created us, the Savior who saved us, the Spirit that empowers us, first in our lives? Maybe it's because there is already someone in first place in our lives-us. Until we are willing to dethrone the king we have installed, we will not give rightful place to the King of Kings.
Now I know that most Christians would immediately agree with this statement on the surface, because we are conditioned to; but when examined more closely we find that many times people are regurgitating traditional, positional, and doctrinally correct responses without giving much thought to it. My question is this: where is the passion, where is the fire, where is the love? I love the church, and I love the lost, but those loves are just an overflow of the love I have for Jesus, because He first loved me.
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
The modern church tends to put the focus on us, the individual-our importance, our significance, our talents, our prosperity-focusing on these as gifts of the gospel, but the greatest gift of the gospel is Christ Himself. Realize that it is us who are to conform to the image of Christ, not the other way around. The reason why the church today is fractured, and its influence is ever decreasing, is because our version of the gospel has become extremely man-centered, instead of Christ-centered.
I love the church and believe it is God's platform for the gospel on the earth, but what are we using that platform for? The church shouldn't be a social club, or a place we go to be entertained. It should be a place where we worship God in Spirit and truth, a place where people repent of their sins and take on an entirely new life. The house of the Lord is where people become disciples-not consumers.
Joshua West is an Assembly of God minister, evangelist and author. He partners in life and ministry with his wife and best friend Kiara. Their goal in life is to preach the gospel to all people and bring glory to the name of Jesus.