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An Inflexible Commitment

September 26, 2014

Today is an age of tolerant intolerance to truth. Everyone’s truth is perfectly acceptable to who ever wants to accept it. Your truth is fine for you, my truth is fine for me and his truth is fine with him. Each one follows his own inner promptings to determine what is true for himself. The spirit of this age declares, “If your belief makes you feel spiritual, satisfies your longings or heals your hurts, then I am happy for you. Only, do not tell me that my beliefs are wrong” In this age of tolerance, all beliefs are acceptable, as long as one belief does not insist that another belief is wrong. Everything will be tolerated except intolerance.

Today is an age of religion as a buffet of pseudo-spiritual emotional and personal therapy. Religion is not a means of coming into the presence of the divine or of seeking divine blessing on one’s life. Religion today is a means of learning to feel better about one’s self, of receiving affirmation in one’s life choices, of having an all powerful back up when things go wrong and of acquiring the things one dreams to possess.

To make this problem worse, modern American Christianity has redesigned itself to appeal to precisely these mistaken notions of God. Modern Christianity has grabbed the world’s expectations and instead of confronting its error has latched onto the error to make it the main selling feature of the mega-brands of Christianity. Most of the largest churches in America have grown by finding out what appeals to the crowds and then providing it. The direct result is a Christianity that offers a Jesus who looks more like the world’s greatest girlfriend than the God of the universe. Jesus, in the mind of many Americans, is someone who will do anything you ask, whatever it takes to make you feel better and demands nothing of you. Christianity has become one very popular form of life coaching and emotional therapy.

In the midst of these pervasive errors, faithful Christians are called to give the gospel. How do we give the gospel in the face of these daunting obstacles? How do we teach of God, of sin of the Bible, of  Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection and exaltation to a culture that only wants a Jesus who will take the wheel when things are difficult but will otherwise sit contentedly in the back seat? To answer that question, we must remember these kinds of idolatrous views of God are not new. We have put our own modern spin on unbelief, but at its basic levels, today’s idolatry is not much different from the idolatry faced by the disciples in the New Testament. How then does the Bible teach us to give the gospel?

One of Paul’s most impressive evangelistic defeats occurred in Athens when he preached Jesus from Mars Hill. Acts 17 tells us of this sad rejection of the gospel and Acts 18 tells that Paul left Athens to go to Corinth. In Corinth Paul connected with Aquila and Priscilla and continued the work of the ministry. In Acts 18:4-5 we learn what that ministry looked like, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.” Paul went to Corinth and began teaching in the synagogues just as he had done throughout his missionary travels. Paul went to Corinth and preached Jesus. What do we do when the culture of the day finds the gospel foolish and offensive? We do what Paul did, we keep giving the gospel just as it is recorded in the Bible. In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul reminds them of his arrival in their city and the message he preached. Fresh off the disappointing response in Athens, Paul committed himself to stay on message.

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

We can do no less than Paul did, that men might be saved by the power of God.

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