Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quick Fix Christianity

In this dispensation of Emergent, Seeker Sensitive, Mega Ministry, Prophetic and Apostolic moves, we find that Christianity has been diminished to a religion of quick fix. It is a 7 step to hearing God, 3 steps to your prosperity, and a 5 step prayer to change your life. I have no qualms with the names of movements such as Emergent, Seeker Sensitive, Mega Ministries, Prophetic or Apostolic movements, because every move is usually identified by a name. There is also a God given purpose to any move that is classified under any given name. For example, the Seeker Sensitive move is for the purpose of drawing people to Christ in an unconventional way. So the moves in and of themselves are not what I am highlighting here. These names simply characterize the ideology and/or purpose of any given move.

We cannot allow any move or movement distract us from the truth of the gospel. I have noticed that often times what has been highlighted is the move itself and not the Christ of the move. These moves are initiated and given to us by God, but often times become the essential factor in our relationship to God. So we’ll relate to Him by way of being a seeker sensitive believer, or through a prophetic move, etc. In other words, the move turns into the quick fix, the move becomes the answer we’ve been waiting for. We mustn’t forget that Christ alone is the answer. As we have seen throughout history, moves come and go. As a child, I remember mainstream denominations being the norm, i.e., Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, etc. As I grew older, there were moves that broke off of the mainstream like, Charismatic, Word of Faith, moves such as non-denominational and inter-denominational. Today there are even newer moves, i.e., the house church movement, apostolic and prophetic movements, etc.

In many moves, what transpires is a notion that a quick fix can be had as a result of the moves’ revelation. For example, in the Word of Faith movement there was revelation concerning faith, healing, prosperity. All of a sudden, out of that revelation, quick fixes were born. So there are quotes such as “name it and claim it” and “money cometh”. Ways in which the healing and prosperity could come to pass was by quoting scripture, believing the Word and receiving God’s promises. Depending on the circumstance of an individual, any of these elements could be useful. So as not to seem like I’m singling out a particular organization, another quick fix notion could be simply to invite Jesus into your heart and every problem in life will be instantly repaired or soon after. Also, just be a regular church attendee or a faithful giver and you’ll receive God’s blessings. I won’t knock something the Lord has given to someone else. It just doesn’t mean that these ideas as good as they may seem, are necessarily an overall quick fix. In my opinion, here’s the reason why. Anything that gets our eyes of f of Christ is first and foremost a distraction and ultimately a recipe for disaster.

Quick fix Christianity in our day has become not only a distraction, but I'd say even a disaster. First off, it is a deception to think that a relationship with Christ would be categorized with quick fix ideologies or rather ideologies that have turned into quick fixes. God cannot and will not be manipulated. Christianity was never meant to be a quick fix for anything or for anyone. As believers, our objective is to be conformed to the image of Christ. Think about it for a minute. Being conformed to the image of Christ is to be so much like Him that when others see you, they really see Him. This only comes by having a relationship with the One to whom we aspire to be like. The moves should only assist us and help us to go in the right direction concerning being conformed to His image. The revelations born out of the moves should do the same. But, ultimately it is only knowing Him in the fellowship of His suffering and in the power of His resurrection that gives us success in life and is profitable for this life and for the life to come, and this is not a quick fix. This comes through trials tribulations, persecution, and being confronted by many other things that try and separate us from His love, such as peril, sword, principalities and powers.

Our momentary light affliction is not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us. In Christ, there are miracles, there are signs and wonders, there is healing and deliverance, there is joy unspeakable and full of glory, there is peace that passes all understanding…..and I am a living witness that it is not a Quick Fix Christianity!!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My Last Exorcism

One cannot escape the recent advertisements of the new movie "The Last Exorcism".  So I've maybe been cooking dinner or passing by the room were my children are watching TV and all of a sudden hear, "In the name of Jesus Christ" and these aweful blood curdling screams.  And I say, "what in the world?"  At this point, I've probable seen the advertisement a thousand times...but it still startles me and I say, "what in the world?"  I know I won't see this movie because it's just not my style, but I have been alerted by this title "The Last Exorcism" in my own life.

You see, I was possessed with a religious spirit.  This spirit causes one to believe that they have achieved a measure of godliness and holiness on their own merit.  Because all of the so called biblical requirements are fulfilled, like daily Bible reading, praying, witnessing, attending Sunday church and mid-week Bible studies, I thought God looked favorably upon me.  What I didn't realize was that He looked favorably upon me and loved me prior to ever fulfilling any one of those so called biblical requirements.  Now please don't misunderstand, I have no problem with any of these so called requirements in and of themselves, but I've come to understand that if I do any of these things at any given time, it is because I love Him, not to gain His approval.  It's not even to pass some sort of heavenly test, because if there was such a test, I would fail miserably.

What I can do is be humbled by His grace and mercy that He chose to give me and respond to His love by being led by His Spirit, which leads into all truth.  And that really is the key...being led by His Spirit.  God does not want a predictable, ritualistic routine, mundane experience with us, which is why He gave us His Spirit to be led by.  When the Spirit leads we have the opportunity to listen and follow His direction which is not predictable, ritualistic, routine or mundane.

The very thing that should have brought freedom to by life, instead brought a system of religion to which I fell prey.  The religious institution introduced me to this spirit of religion and held me bound and captive for years and years.  Now the Bible speaks of true religion which is to care for the widows and orphans, so in that sense, religion is good.  And I'm not going to expose or trample on the work or intentions of another.  Because I've come to some conclusions and truths in my life, doesn't mean that God didn't use religious institutions to impact my life.  There were so many good things I gained from my involvement, like character and discipline.  Somewhat like being involved in a secular educational institution where good things can be gained...but that doesn't mean that your devotion goes so far and so deep that you lose your own self and personal relationship with the Creator.  The main loss when being conformed to the image of a religious institution is being so performance oriented towards God that you don't really come to know who He is, but only what He requires.  That is when a religious spirit has taken over and is in control. 

In my last exorcism I was delivered from the performance, in my last exorcism I was delivered from a works mentality (even while quoting the scripture, not of works lest any should boast), in my last exorcism I was delivered from a predictable, ritualistic, mundane routine of religious exercises that only kept me wanting to do more and be better for His acceptance, in my last exorcism I was delivered from self righteousness and false pride, in my last exorcism I was delivered from codependence and from a religious system that kept me doing all the right things for the wrong reasons.

Lucky for me, my neck didn't twist around and I didn't leap and bounce off the walls and the ceiling, but trust me, in my last exorcism that religious spirit had to "Come out in the name of Jesus!"

God Is Love!

For those of us who have been "Christians" for any length of time, we know the concept of God being love, but do we really know the reality of God being love?  When my dad was alive, he would always speak of concepts.  And when he'd get a new concept, he'd call me on the phone and say, "Nanny Poo, I have a concept, and I want you to check it out."  So we'd discuss his new concept for hours on end.

Concepts are awesome, because like theories, they shed light on things and cause us to look further and deeper for understanding.  But sometimes the problem with a concept is that it can stay in that stage and not develop any further than the knowledge received.  So hence the concept is simply information.  Can we be honest my fellow believers?  In this day and age, we are on information overload!

This concept I have concerning the fact that God is love may be surprising to some, but to others may be what they live and walk by daily.  The scripture says in 1 John 4:8 that God is love.  This indicates that the very essence of God is love and that the very essence of love is God.  1+1=2 or 2=1+1 shows the same weight on both sides of the equation.  One cannot truly express God without acting in love, neither can one act in love with out expressing the essence of God.  What can be said about those who seemingly always blab...God, God, God and don't show love?  What can be said of those who express love over and over again but don't say much about God?  Saying God does not reflect love, but showing love always reflects God. 

I was one of those Christians who prided myself on having the ability to quote a lot of scripture and say, "God said thus and such."  I was ready for the Jehovah's Witness, the Mormon and for the Muslim.  I was really ready for those who didn't think it necessary to go to church, or for those who skipped church from time to time because they had more important things to do like wax a car or go out on the lake.  And shame on those who were just plain too tired to come to church because of a long draining work week.  Now I know the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks about the hope that is in you, but what I failed to realize is that many did not ask.  I took it upon myself to usurp my religiosity upon them and I called it "witnessing".  Really, the only answer to be given if someone should happen to ask is found in Colossians 1:27, it's simply "Christ in me the hope of glory". 

Where did we "Christians" get this pounding people over the head with a bunch of scriptures in an attempt to show them the love of God?  Usually when that is done, it is not that we wish the person to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is for us to feel better about ourselves.  It is for us to show off what we know, and not who we know through the expression of love.  That was my case anyway. 

Since God is love, then our mission should always be to love.  In loving, we reflect God!  The truth is that actions do speak louder than words, and the concept that God is love can only be transferred to a living reality and move beyond a theory when we show love to one another regardless of our differences.  One might ask what it is to express the love of God, and I believe it is as simple as doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This is love which is the true essence and expression of God.