Friday, February 10, 2017

Entry 3. Finding Jesus in the Uncommon Places

It's alarming to think that Jesus is rarely found in the church anymore. And it's even more alarming to attend a service that is supposed to celebrate God but instead you find it feels like a funeral. What's worse than a spiritually dead church? I'd say the only thing worse is a body that is scared to speak against it, a group comfortable with going through the motions.

One of C.S. Lewis' most powerful quotes about Hell comes from The Screwtape Letters:

"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."
There are two common religions that leave plenty of room for complacency while removing the Spirit entirely.

1. Catholicism

The only time it's alive is after the service, when people are quickly shuffling out the doors and to their cars; the other exception is one of those church-wide potlucks. Many of the people are kind and hard working, but they attend because it's tradition. Jesus isn't alive to them, He is still firmly on the cross. You can find little idols of this down every hall, above nearly every door. Of course there is little joy. Instead of focusing on the victory that was won on the cross, the culture of the church is of a severe nature.

There have been many cases of children being forced into accepting Jesus against their will, which in turn takes Jesus' free gift of salvation and turns it into a gag that is shoved down their throats. Mary is prayed to, an act of outright idolatry. And the official head of the Catholic body appointed by the pastoral office is not Jesus, but the Pope, who most recently claimed He has the power to forgive sins.

Catholicism isn't a staple of the faith; it is parasitic in nature, and has caused countless people to turn away from God entirely. This system has been spiritually dead for a very long time and yet it continues to thrive. But, be assured, Jesus is nowhere near it.

2. Lutheranism 

Though I could argue that the Spirit stops in from time to time, and that for the most part the teaching lines up with what's in the bible, I would be hard pressed to suggest anyone joining this religion. Yes, it teaches the Trinity correctly and gives Jesus adoration. But, where it falls short is in the teaching of grace.

The requirement for Salvation, according to Lutheranism, is that a few drops of baptismal water as a baby forever covers you in the grace of Christ. Is this biblical? Not even close. Accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior must be a personal choice, a conscious decision. Parents cannot cover their children with this one act of faith and claiming they can leaves all members open to a life of complacency and loose living: "If the grace of Christ covers me, there is nothing I can do to lose it." All responsibility and all relationship is removed. Jesus is seen as nothing more than fire insurance.

To be saved is to make the decision to follow Christ for yourself. Very few Lutherans have done this and so very few Lutherans even have "fire insurance".

Where you will find Jesus is where a true heart for God lives. I argue that this can be in any medium and in any form. Those set in their ways would disagree with me. They would tell me that worship sounds a certain way and must be handled a certain way. They speak against Christian rap, rock, etc... claiming that rock concerts aren't Godly, and that rap is something that is too rough around the edges to be Spiritual. The old way oftentimes sound far too much like the Pharisees to me. Instead of seeing that God wants to change us from within first, meeting us at our current state, they try to force everyone to follow a set of rules and conduct themselves in the "correct manner".

The Spirit is alive and well, friends, but He is in very few churches. Instead start looking for the passion for God in people, start looking for the fire again. Jesus is where life is. Jesus is where movement is happening. I'm not going to tell you that every Christian rock act is Spirit filled and that every new rapper to claim Christ is actually doing it for Him; I'm simply saying to start looking for God in the uncommon places. Don't judge anyone by outward appearance, because a new movement is starting and it's tailor made to speak to this generation in a way that Grand Dad's never can. Jesus is life and He can use anyone to reach lost hearts in the darkest of places.

I think Jesus makes more appearances in underground clubs, and dirty, rundown holes in the ground where the Spirit is starting to spread, instead of the church where complacency is at its worst. Start looking for God in the dark because the light is manufactured.  

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