When I was a kid, low calorie and fat free foods were almost nonexistent. Lately, however, just about everything has a low calorie or fat free version: mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, peanut butter, cookies, chips…and the list goes on and on. Have you ever taken a look at the ingredient list of these foods? You need to have a degree in chemistry to read it. This stuff isn’t made in a kitchen, they are made in a chemistry lab!
In order to have the taste of these “lite” foods comparable to their higher calorie. higher fat counterparts, artificial ingredients or cheap counterfeits need to be substituted for the real ingredients. The taste ends up being close to the real thing, but it really never is the same.
Unfortunately, Christianity has followed this practice. In recent years, a form of Christianity has become popular that is close to biblical Christianity but is” light” on intellectual demands and deep discipleship. We want the “taste” of God without having the “added calories” of having to surrender our lives to Him.
The church growth “experts” tell us that we must remake church into something the masses will accept, and that church must not look like church or have any resemblance of it. The mantras are: “think outside the box”, “conduct cutting edge services”, and “be non-threatening and relevant”.
In response to this thinking, modern Christianity, in order to get people in the door, has painted a picture of God that resembles a “Cosmic Sugar Daddy”, or has created a “Mr. Potato Head” God where everyone creates a God to their own liking (remember Mr. Potato Head – you created a face that you liked using different noses, eyes, etc.).
No longer is there a sense of awe and wonder of our marvelous God. No longer is there passionate uncompromised preaching of the Word of God. “Self” has replaced Jesus as the main focus of far too many church services. Entertainment has replaced worship, technology has replaced the Holy Spirit, and “feel good” messages have replaced the truly life transforming power of God’s Word.
The result of this “new way to do church” is obvious – shallow Christians that are an inch deep and a mile wide. Oh, the large attendance numbers are flaunted as proof that this new way works. However, are we raising a spiritually malnourished generation of believers?
I’ve been told that we can’t bore people with preaching that emphasizes theology, the cross and blood of Jesus, surrender, brokenness, and dying to self because these topics make people feel bad about themselves. And, after all, we must make people feel good so they’ll come back next week. And the way to do this is to preach around the Bible and emphasize “me”.
No way. I am absolutely convinced that Jesus is enough. He was 2000 years ago, and He is today. Relevant? Jesus is ALWAYS relevant! Sure, culture has changed, but human beings, and their need of Him, has not. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should ignore the cultural context that we live in. There is nothing wrong with using the latest innovations at our disposal. However, we must put these “things” in their proper perspective. The power of God doesn’t need any help from our worldly devices. When God’s Word is proclaimed with the conviction and passion of the Holy Spirit’s anointing, lives will be transformed.
If we are to mature in our faith and become sold out disciples of Jesus, if we are to have a real and lasting impact in our world for the Kingdom of God, then we need to dig deep into the Bible, have a strong foundation in proper theology, and cultivate an intimate relationship with God. The cheap substitutes and counterfeit additives that have replaced the real ingredients of our faith only produce a Christianity that is a mere shadow of what God desires, and builds mediocre, lukewarm believers. We don’t need more “chemistry lab” Christians, we need more “real ingredient” Christians.
Don’t satisfy for the fat-free lo-cal Christianity that is marketed so extensively today. Go deep into your relationship with Jesus, and be hungry to know Him more. Surrender “self” to Him and be on the journey of real discipleship. There is no greater journey, no greater joy, no greater reality than this.