Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Irony of Modern American Protestantism

Modern American Protestantism these days seems intent on having you dream big. They want you to cast your vision for the future and see all of the great things that God desires for your life. They want you to live your best life now and not be afraid to pray boldly for the things that you want. They teach that God has a desire for you that is beyond your imagination and you were designed with a purpose to achieve this plan that God has.

.......unless your dream is to be held captive by the entire Word of God properly handled and in context.

.......unless your dream is the forgiveness of sins.

.......unless your dream is to see the churches around you grow in spirit AND truth as their understanding of the true faith matures and deepens in the knowledge of pure, Biblical doctrine.

.......unless the vision that God is laying on your heart is a fervent desire to kneel at the cross of Christ daily as a member of a congregation that has a single-minded focus on the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins where God's gifts are distributed to His children which He purchased with the blood of Jesus.

By their own statements and example, it seems that God presents everything but those kinds of dreams. If you look at the Parable of the Great Banquet [really the whole chapter of Luke 14], it would seem from these false teachers that it is God's desire to help you take care of your field, your oxen, and your wife rather than to bring people to the feast.

Do I sense a desire to see God draw men to Himself rather than humans just luring people into a building to create slightly better-behaved sinners? That kind of nonsense is the one thing that can't be coming from God!

The irony of this kind of thinking is not lost on me. It is the worst idolatry when we secretly make our own desires seem holy by claiming that God wants what we think sounds good for us rather than truly listening when He speaks for Himself in His holy Word. We all do this. We gather around causes and pet projects in the name of God rather than around the cross. We follow the teachers in great throngs of nominal admirers who are still totally loyal to earthly concerns and will not come and die in Christ's death so that we might live in His resurrection.

Christ's response to this great, casual multitude is clear and earth-shattering. He says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

The way of a "Christ follower" is always the cross. It is a call for nothing less--and nothing other--than total death. You cannot follow Christ without picking up your cross. A cross-less journey can never be one that persues God's desire for you. Christ is the one mediator between God and man. This mediator bids you to come, hate your own life, despise your sin, and die... so that you will live eternally with Him in heaven.

This teaching seems horrible, terrible, harsh, and damning.

But then again, the Law always sounds horrible, terrible, harsh, and damning to those of us who are miserable sinners. This teaching from a just and righteous God absolutely kills us... and rightly so! What ungreatful guests we are: to snub our Lord's gracious invititation for earthly and temporal concerns.


Dan said...

Great thoughts here, Mike. When Tiffany and I get the new blog up and running, would you consider being a guest blogger?

Mike Baker said...