Churches today often make plans to bring people to Christ based on what people "want."
Church leaders say things like, "No one wants to come to that kind of church anymore." or "Who would want to serve that kind of Jesus?" They view reaching the lost as something akin to an advertising campaign. "Give the people what they want, keep things exciting and show them our smiling faces." is their mantra!
Yet true Christianity is often the exact opposite of what we naturally "want!"
The clear message of the Bible is that man is fallen! Therefore man cannot receive, know or grasp the things of God - apart from salvation. Man does not naturally or intuitively "want" the right things. On the contrary the things of God make Him uncomfortable and seem wrong to him until he is enlightened by the Holy Spirit! (See 1 Corinthians 2:14)
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “ If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Jesus is counter-culture, counter man's inclination and most important - counter-self! We cannot find Him on our terms. We are fallen and He is holy! Nor can we remain loyal to our culture and find God at the same time!
This is also true for believers. Our perceptions of God are skewed by our fallen culture. We must walk among our culture but we are not to be conformed to our culture! We are to be salt and light to our culture. If we lose our flavor, we will be trampled by our culture. If we hide our light under a bushel, we cannot bring true light to a dark world!
Every Christian must honestly evaluate himself or herself - as to how much we are influencing culture toward God - versus allowing culture to guide us. Are we trying to reach them on their terms or present God on His terms as His ambassadors?
OUR TRANSCENDENT GOD!
God is transcendent to ALL man-made cultures. Man is sinful by nature and therefore separated from the Holy, perfect God who created the universe! The world desperately needs to make contact with, and be in right relationship with, this transcendent, holy God! If all the church can provide is the same things found in the world - with a Christian "theme" or "flavor" - we cannot meet the deepest need of mankind- a personal reconciliation with The Living God through salvation!
Modern Christianity downplays the need for salvation and reconciliation - and the eternal consequences of dying without Christ! Today Jesus is presented as someone who will make your life better. It will be beneficial to "add" Jesus to our lives - but death to self is optional!
Jesus states clearly that we MUST deny our "self!" It is not an option. We must be baptized into Jesus death if we are to receive His life! (See Romans 6:1-14)
If Jesus teaches that this death to self it is essential to our salvation, what will be the result of lessening its importance? The answer is clear - not only are we dismissing and contradicting Jesus words - we are also giving false assurances to the world that they we can find God or be right with God apart from death to self!
Let's face it - if we teach another gospel - one in which salvation does not require death to self - our churches can be full! After all, who would choose to die to what we want - if we can get the same results without surrendering our own ways!
This may make for a more pleasant church experience now - but what about eternity? There will come a day when we will all stand before God and He will judge us for all eternity!
We don't seem to realize that in that day, no opinion of man will come into play! We may celebrate and congratulate each other now - as we are - without death to self. But in that day - only those who have died to self and received new life in Christ will inherit His Kingdom!
What we naturally "want" is more often contrary to the thoughts, ways and Word of God!
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
The gate into God's Kingdom is narrow; the path to God is difficult and requires death to our fallen "self" nature! Our fallen nature does not need adjustment, healing or tweaking - it needs to die - before we can truly live!
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THE 4 SPIRITUAL LAWS
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TEN BASIC STEPS TO CHRISTIAN MATURITY