Near Beliefs and The Personal Jesus (TM)

These posts are coming fast because the fodder is delivered regularly. This one is also based on a recent “Moments With You” email from Family Life ministries. It illustrates yet another level of the deceit against which we fight. In this particular form of deceit, the protagonist recognizes a problem and appears to be finding common ground with those who differ from him. Yet all that’s done is a sort of Trojan Horse is built and ridden into the midst of those who are not sufficiently grounded. This serves as an outer defense.

I’m afraid too many of us Christians don’t know what we really believe. Like a cork in the ocean, driven and tossed by the waves, we bounce from opinion to opinion, influenced more by the last book we read than by a lifetime of biblical study. We’ve become activity junkies, seldom stopping long enough to decide what really matters to us, too busy to determine what’s really worth living for, let alone worth dying for.

As a result we live our lives based upon “near beliefs.” [The Personal Jesus] Near beliefs have just enough truth in them to sound strangely familiar to convictions, yet they’re too weak to inspire us or our actions. Too anemic to influence us to make a decision that demands a sacrifice.[They DO inspire actions, cliche driven actions based on the belief that God wants us to be happy, for example]

Near beliefs wimp out when a teenager is pushing you out of his or her life. Near beliefs won’t keep a marriage together when romance fades. Near beliefs almost always fall silent on such issues as same-sex marriages and homosexuals adopting children. Near beliefs don’t inspire the courage to change a behavior or to press on against disapproval or opposition from “the herd.”

Near beliefs are to blame for a new brand of Christianity that is epidemic in our homes and churches—a faith that has little flavor, little light and little influence. When near beliefs are our only source of motivation, tough stands are never taken, feathers are never ruffled, and absolutes are held very loosely. [really, like man bad woman good, like divorce wink nudge]Without core convictions to help us navigate, we stand uneasily on shifting sand, and we lack the solid footing with which to stage a life of principle and character.

Today is a call to biblical conviction. A call to spending time studying the Word. A clarion call to challenge you to determine: What do I believe?

What is needed today is a battalion of believers who follow Christ and stand for Him and His truth.

[my added comments]

Come to The Personal Jesus (TM), he is relationship not religion, and we followers of his do not mince words, we take on culture, we are a powerful voice for change, they say.

How can they write these things with a clear conscience? How can they not see they are describing themselves?

I will tell you how.

Note they use gay marriage and abortion as the bellwether to measure commitment. Notice they made no mention of the status of the family in the church. The targets they choose are easy targets. They are safe, and when spoken will get AMEN shouted in churches. They directly affect a fraction of the folks present, they are outside the church, those bad people and ideas, and we can band together in opposition to them.

To mention frivorce, and family destruction per, in church is to demonstrate the conviction that they are using here to hide their lack of same.

Like this….

The man who sits way in the back of the balcony, unshaven, maybe even stinking of alcohol from the night before, eyes red rimmed from weeping and being hungover, he goes largely unnoticed. If he is noticed by someone he is judged. He must be a bad person too, but these bold Christians, they say  “thank God he is in church trying to get himself sorted out, they say to each other with brows furrowed, “I will pray for him”.”

One feels led.

“I’m going to go talk to him. Lets see if he wants to join our pro-family team, sign our abortion and gay marriage petition, focus on others always helps us see our own problems more clearly”

As he follows the nudging of his spirit and begins to walk away from the group, and towards a point where he can intercept the man as he exits…someone says something to him sotto voce

“Oh, whats that you say, he was recently divorced….”

“That’s too bad, he probably wants to be  alone then, anyone know the wife?”

Someone points to a 40 something woman with a tan and a sundress, beside her are 2 children below the age of 10, the woman is standing with one of the associate pastors who is in deep conversation with her. She appears stoic and resolved, the pillar of faith based strength in the face of events outside her control, a testimony to Gods goodness and promises.

Someone in the group looks back over at the man walking out, he is turned looking  at the woman and the children, then hangs his head low as he passes others in the doorway on his way out.

Someone says, “Wow, I wonder what he did.”

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3 thoughts on “Near Beliefs and The Personal Jesus (TM)

  1. I listen to Chuck Swindoll on occasion: The other day he actually said (paraphrase) “People when they get in a tough situation do not ask themselves often enough what Jesus would do.” Like this, we need to take our personal, figment of our imagination Jesus out every know and then and ponder what he might do. Talk about solipsism.

  2. More and more I am coming to the conclusion that each church and society has sins that they are happy to ignore and sins that they are quick to condemn. I wonder why I have never heard in church preaching or teaching on 1Corinthians 7, neither on the instruction to give yourself to your spouse nor on the command not to divorce. But then, much of the commands are then treated as if it is the state’s responsibility to do what individual Christians are commanded to do so as to absolve the individuals of their personal responsibility.

    Here in Europe, there is almost consensus that the state will do all the good that is needed and that there is no individual responsibility beyond voting for a party who will promise to keep benefits sky high. I have heard “How can you call yourself a Christian if you vote Conservative?” in the northern half of the country and “How can you call yourself a Christian if you vote Labour?” in the southern half of the country. I’ve never heard “Now just what exactly did you, personally, do to help this person you said needed help?”

    I have been following a discussion elsewhere which suggests that CS Lewis had the right idea with “The Screwtape Letters” and that the church needs to start to tell people about their Saviour one by one, just as Wormwood goes about trying to corrupt people one by one. When I challenged the minister (pastor) in our local Methodist church about the lack of teaching in Sunday services, I was told that the sermon is for proclamation of the Word, not for teaching. We have about 25% of our church attending Bible study house groups, and the result of this lack of teaching is shown nationally in the church.

    What follows is taken from the report on the 20s30s Initiative ‘to help children, young people and young adults to engage with God and to help the Church to engage with them’. Faced with the small numbers between the ages of 20 and 40 within the Methodist Church, a working group was set up to explore ways in which the Christian faith can better be related to the lifestyles of 20s and 30s in Britain today.’

    ‘3.3 Although among evangelical participants there was strong support for Christian teachings on sexual matters as traditionally expressed, it is clear that these teachings have been and are being widely ignored among many younger Methodists. The practice of sexual intercourse and cohabitation outside marriage was regarded as widespread, sensible and right. (Marriage often followed before children were born.) Some divorced participants and single parents regarded their churches as mainly supportive but, for some, negative preaching about divorce had been damaging. Methodism was thought by most to be more accepting of homosexual orientation and lifestyle than other mainstream Churches, and this was welcomed. In post-university settings, there was a view that Methodism must go further in affirming homosexuals.’ The resolution was that Conference receives the Report. There were no comments.

  3. Pingback: Linkage Is Good For You: Truncated Moving Week | Society of Amateur Gentlemen

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