To my friends, family and to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am writing this with a heavy heart and to warn us of the dangers we are living in. You might think that it is preposterous. censorious, unreasonable or even mad of me to write this way. Frankly I do not care. But I hope and pray that we will start looking at what is going on around us and make the needed changes. I am open to any clarifications or discussions on issues I raise here…Thanks for allowing me to share and be myself with you.
Sometime back I was asked, what is the greatest danger to the church today, I responded by saying, “The greatest danger to the church today is the church herself”.
We, the church, God’s own people have, for far too long indulged in an illegitimate relationship with the world. I would say that this unholy alliance has been going on probably for several centuries now and hence we do not see anything wrong with it. Since all of us were born into this condition, we think what we see around us is normal, natural and nothing wrong.
Practically all that is going on in the church today – the so called church services, and the several ministries that take place both in the church and the para church organisations and most of the preaching/teaching of the word of God that is going on in the church including the way we interpret scriptures – is as a result of the illegitimate relationship between the church and the world – to meet the needs, issues, difficulties and problems arising as a result of the illegitimate relationship with the world.
Many take shelter in the fact that they have achieved so much in their life and ministries or that they have been able to bring many to salvation or that their prayers have been answered in so many ways and the proof of it is in their success…both in the world and in the church and the ministries they do. After you have given me all your statistics and shown me the fruit of your labours and shared your testimonies of the so called goodness of God and his answers to your prayers both in your personal, family and church lives – I would still cry out and say, “It is all because of God’s common grace. Such things do happen even for those who do not profess Christ.” Where is the cross in our lives and where is the ‘special grace’ seen in the way we reject and repudiate the world in all its forms among us.
And by worldliness, I mean the identity, the securities, the power and the glory the world offers. The people of God have not only dallied with these but have desired to be defined and described by the categories of the world, for far too long now (often in the delusion of reaching the world).
The worldliness among God’s people is on several fronts. We have today made Christianity a religion. The insistence on church attendance on Sundays at a particular place, giving of offering and tithes as a mandatory way of pleasing God and to find blessing in life are just two forms of religion in the church. Today most Christians worship their church structures, church patterns, services and in some cases even the founders of their church. Some even worship their own success both in the world, church and the ministry. And many worship, worship itself and not the LORD God of the Bible and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the final analysis, worship is about trust in and obedience to the one we call as Lord and God of our lives. It has nothing to do with a place, a system, order or pattern. It is about a lifestyle of faith and obedience to God. By reducing worship to a ritual, a tradition, an order or a pattern we have reduced Christian faith to a religion, which neither the gospels nor the epistles teach. Neither the gospels nor any of the epistles teach any ritual or form. But they are replete with teaching on how we should live.
A second area of worldliness among God’s people is the adopting of the middle-class pursuits and lifestyles. This is primarily an offshoot of the capitalist model of economy and not the result of meditation and worship of the God of the Bible nor His Son. The middle class dream has become the dream of many ‘followers of Christ’ including many great preachers and leaders in the church. Most of our prayers are centred around this pursuit or on problems arising out of it. And practically all the ministries that were born in the last century or so, are born to service the problems and issues arising from the pursuit of middle class dreams. If this is not an accommodation and adjustment with the world then what is?
A third aspect of the illegitimate cohabitation with the world is the systems and structures we have raised to ‘run our churches’ (I say it in quotes because there is no such concept of running a church in the NT) or to do our ministries – the penchant for building large buildings, organisational and administrative structures – the strategies, the projects, the programmes, the language and the terminologies, including the theologies we have come up with to justify them. These structures and systems are all born as a result of human fallenness and therefore reek of human insecurity and identity crisis which itself is a result of our fallenness. These are all borrowed from the world and are not a product of our meditation and worship of the Triune God nor of his incarnation in Christ.
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Rather than hiding behind false pretences, justifications and excuses….let us get earnest and repent!