A lot has changed over the last 50 years. Culture has redefined itself in America and the result is a level of tolerance and an acceptance of sinful activity that has been masqueraded as compassionate, loving, and accepting. John Wesley once said, “What one generation tolerates, the next one will embrace.”
As tolerance has become the theme of the day in America, sadly Biblical truth has taken a back seat, while many of the foundational moorings of the Christian faith have come under aggressive attack on various fronts. In light of this, a muting of the church has occurred. The result is that sin is not only permitted, but it is now aggressively promoted (even in many Christian settings).
While this is a sad reality, there is a much sadder truth that the church must face! What I am referring to is the fact that the church needs to bear the burden and the responsibility for allowing culture to degrade into a place of secularism and darkness, unlike generations in the past could have ever processed or imagined.
I recently attended an event in Charlotte, NC where the city council voted on a new ordinance that would have made it legal for members of the opposite sex to use restrooms, as well as other personal facilities within the city, if it would have passed. The banner that was being waved by the proponents of this ordinance was acceptance, fairness, civil rights, tolerance, etc. This was geared at appeasing a very small percentage of the population that claims to be transgender. However, the result could have resulted in the endangerment of young children who could easily find themselves in very private settings with sexual predators disguising themselves as being transgender.
Even though Charlotte surprisingly voted this ordinance down, the fact is that many large cities in America have already implemented statutes into their municipal laws that do create grave dangers for our children. In truth, I believe that the fight in Charlotte will move forward, as the voice of the minority will continue to be heard until another vote comes before the council again.
Where does the church fit into the present challenges that we are facing regarding the continual resistance and removal of the sacred foundations that develop and sustain any society? The painful fact is that we are a large part of the problem! Instead of maintaining our identity and love for truth, the trend has been to become as much like the world as possible so that we can reach them and not appear to be outdated, legalistic, and old fashioned.
Let me say that I do understand that we must reach modern culture and even as Jesus used parables to reveal kingdom truths, we do need to present the message of the gospel in ways that are understandable, especially to those that have been raised in a postmodern world where there has been no Biblical worldview experienced.
However, even though we might embrace new methods of communication, the message of the gospel cannot be compromised or we cease to really be the church. When we embrace another gospel that does not bring a dying world to repentance by way of presenting the price that Jesus paid on the cross, then we must understand that we are the problem! Even though we love to get together and talk about how bad things are in the world, the hard fact is that we become the origin of the ungodly symptoms affecting our culture, when we lose the ability to be a prophetic voice as the church!
Another reality that we must embrace is the level of sin that has risen in the church and even in the ministry. Not only have we watered down the gospel by way of presentation to modern culture, we have also allowed ourselves to become partakers of ungodly practices and habits that have literally gagged us to the point of becoming mute when it comes to providing direction and warning to a dying world!
The only hope is for the people of God to wake up now! Our silence is and has been in essence a loud proclamation of our lukewarmness, compromise, and sin that has brought us to a place of utter weakness. When we should have been proclaiming and advancing God’s purposes and truth over the last several decades, sadly we found ourselves comfortable in our religious formalities and sideshows, while the armies geared at removing any trace of God from our society were very active and deliberate in their role, purpose, and vision.
Even though it will be painful, the church must look in the mirror of reality and ask some hard questions in light of the condition of our society and our lack of conviction and power to address it effectively. We must get honest before the “Holiness of the Lord” and allow Him to probe deeply into the core of our existence and remove anything within us that aligns us with a gospel that reflects a model of self-fulfillment, personal ministry success, an alignment with the spirit of this world, and a message that calls people to social, religious form void of true repentance and discipleship. Some honest answers follow.
1. We have exchanged the gospel of the cross for a gospel of accommodation. (We have learned not to offend man while at the same time condoned grieving the heart of God). Ref. Matthew 10:37-39
2. We have exchanged the anointing and unction for entertainment and the wisdom of this age. (We have learned to use talent, carnal knowledge and performance based ministry to entice individuals to become a part of our social, religious gatherings while neglecting the eternal condition of their souls). Ref. I Corinthians 1:18-25
3. We have exchanged an eternal awareness or consciousness for the passing delicacies and allurements of this present age. (We invest in the things of this world that will eventually be consumed while neglecting the reality of eternity and the world to come). Ref. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
4. We have exchanged prayer and fasting (which begets divine assistance) for furious religious activity. (We focus more on ministry mandates and activities then we do on God’s availability to us through intimacy with Him). Ref. James 5:16
5. We have exchanged the fear of the Lord for the approval of men. (We concern ourselves more with what people say and think about us as believers then we do about what God has called us to be as His children). Ref. Psalm 111:10
6. We have exchanged the burden of the Lord for a life of feel good experiences that oftentimes only breed more of the same. (Even though spiritual, feel good experiences are great, if the burden of the Lord’s heart is not real in the life of the church, we become self-fulfilling while neglecting the great commission). Ref. Jeremiah 4:19, 8:20, 9:1
Keith Collins is the founder and president of Generation Impact Ministries (www.keith-collins.org) and currently serves as the lead pastor of FIRE Church (www.fire-church.org) and the director of FIRE School of Ministry (www.fire-school.org) both located in Concord, NC.